These three pianists already appeared on the London Improvisers Orchestra's The Hearing Continues (Emanem, 2001), and upon listening to their interplays on this large-group recording, one already wishes for a more intimate session. Here it is. "3 Pianos" was recorded on July 23, 2001: three excellent improvisers, three very good instruments, and a studio with the perfect acoustics to host the six perpetrators. Steve Beresford
, Pat Thomas, and Veryan Weston
all share a musical background more classical than jazz in nature. Their music is completely free of hints to jazz and stands idiom-less, non-referential except for British free improv's own lingo. The CD begins with four trio improvisations (one is split between two tracks, the result of a mid-course edit). "Hogarth" stands out, with the three players working inside and outside their instruments, achieving interesting, sparse density. Three duos follow. Of these, Beresford
and Thomas' "Rippleway" provides the strongest moment on the disc -- a short, eventful, focused improv. The album ends with three trios, with each musician devising a restrictive rule (although they are not revealed) and a final trio improvisation. Paradoxically, 3 Pianos gives to the listener exactly what one can expect, but nothing more. It's all very well-done, an exemplary improv session, but it lacks a bit of surprise, maybe.