Francis Drake’s Stories (DMCHR 71087) has a reeds-guitar-bass/cello trio that is reminiscent of the Chico Hamilton Quintet
Francis Drake, a trio named after the English explorer, consists of guitarist Max Frankl, Max Von Mosch on clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones, and Henning Sieverts doubling on bass and cello. Together this pianoless and drumless trio creates music that at times recalls the Jimmy Giuffre Three of the late 1950s, but without using Giuffre’s repertoire or too closely emulating his group.
What Francis Drake and the Jimmy Giuffre Three have in common are the relaxed freedom of their improvisations and the democratic nature of the ensembles. Francis Drake’s music is melodic yet open to spontaneous change in its direction. Sometimes the lead is naturally taken by Mosch on his reeds but, on other occasions, it seems as if guitarist Frankl is setting the tone for the performance, at least until Sieverts (whether on cello or bass) takes over.
On Stories, Francis Drake performs five originals apiece by the two Maxes while Sieverts contributes the other number. The pieces range from thoughtful ballads and classical-flavored works to freer and faster pieces. One is reminded at times of West Coast jazz of the late 1950s (most obviously the Chico Hamilton Quintet with cellist Fred Katz) but the music does contain its share of subtle surprises.
Stories is filled with thought-provoking performances and overall is a quiet joy.