With his No Fast Food trio, the drummer, composer and new jazz mainstay Phil Haynes - along with the iconic tenor and soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman and the perennially in-demand bassist Drew Gress - has shaped a fluid unit that can confidently take its place alongside the celebrated combos which provided the very inspiration for the band, including the legendary Elvin Jones trio with Joe Farrell and Jimmy Garrison.
On In Concert, recorded at New York State and Pennsylvania performances in 2012, No Fast Food - an outfit comprised of veteran musicians who unite experience with imperishable vitality - announces itself as one of the premier new jazz bands of the day.
As its name implies, No Fast Food is not in the business of providing only instant gratification, but rather the musical riches that come from a considered listening to the band, repaying any effort in full. Stressing intimate communication and the opportunity to creatively fill space or to keep it tantalizingly open, No Fast Food react with jaguar-like agility, each member responding to the other with live-wire resourcefulness.
Although Haynes is the leader and chief composer of the trio, No Fast Food is a band of equals, as befits the resolutely interactive nature of the group itself. Throughout In Concert, Haynes, Liebman and Gress display the art of collective listening in its highest form.
Spare though the trio's instrumentation may be, No Fast Food isn't afraid of allowing space to reveal musical delight. Haynes, Liebman and Gress weave in and out of their musical web, thus ensuring variety and the pleasures of sonic spaciousness that arise when superior players are confident enough not to play.
Blending memorable composition with both harmonic and open form improvisation, each performance -- be it driving ("Together," "West Virginian Blues," "Workin' It," "Out of the Bowels," "The Code"), mid-tempo ("Blues For Israel," "Dawn On the Gladys Marie") or ballad ("Last Dance," "Incantation," "Chant," "Ballad du Jour,") - offers a chance to hear sympathetic players mesh in indivisible unity while also nudging each other into unexplored terrain, guided only by a superbly intuitive sense of collective purpose.
No Fast Food is a logical outgrowth of Haynes's extensive experience in trio contexts, including his celebrated work with the maverick trumpeter Paul Smoker.
"The meaningful conversations that occur as three streams of information come together - that's the magic of trios," Haynes says. "There's both this amazing individual clarity that can be achieved, as well as an equality of ensemble counterpoint. I wrote the music for this project for these particular players, yet when things work best, as they do on this recording, the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. If I do my job as a leader, No Fast Food will always sound like a collective."
"You honor the masters by taking the music forward. With No Fast Food we're looking for freshness. It's not about fitting into a specific genre. We swing, we play open; we love composition and we love taking it apart and moving it all to a different space."
In his thirty-plus year career, Phil Haynes has recorded alongside such illustrious jazz figures as Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Feldman and Michele Rosewoman, among many, and has performed with diverse instrumentalists including Don Byron, Billy Childs, Charles Gayle, Louis Sclavis, Gary Thomas and Kenny Werner. He has also been an integral member of ensembles featuring Paul Smoker, Ellery Eskelin, Clarence 'Herb' Robertson and Gebhard Ullmann, as well as led the bands Free Country, 4 Horns & What?, Continuum and Hammond Insurgency. Haynes' music has been called ". . . the perfect middle between tradition and avant-garde, between power and sophistication, between accessibility and adventure," (Stef, FreeJazzBlog.org).
An NEA Jazz Master, David Liebman has been a major force on the tenor and soprano saxophones since attracting attention in the early-1970s bands of Elvin Jones and Miles Davis. In subsequent work, with Lookout Farm, Quest and numerous other ensembles, Liebman has since gone on to become an internationally regarded bandleader and prolific recording artist.
Drew Gress, one of the first call bassists on the contemporary jazz scene, has done significant work with Fred Hersch, John Abercrombie, Ravi Coltrane, Tim Berne, Uri Caine, Don Byron, John Surman and many others. In addition to being featured on nearly two dozen CDs partnered with Phil Haynes, Gress is also a gifted band leader, composer and recording artist.