In Black and White, Trio X, live 1999/2001
Review by Steven Loewy allmusic.com
When they are "on", the members of Trio X play music that is as good as it gets, and evidence of that is amply abundant here, with some important and exciting interpretations of the emotionally vibrant "God Bless the Child," the Ayler-esque "Goin' Home", and the poignant "'Round Midnight and Later." The recording splices together excerpts from two concerts recorded a couple of years apart, the first few cuts from Ann Arbor, MI's Edgefest '99 and the last three from the 2001 Vision Festival in New York City. While the personnel is the same, the two venues produced very different music, with the selections from Edgefest '99 focusing on tunes, and the later concert featuring generally longer tracks without melodic reference. It is the melodies that shed the most light on the group's strategies, which interpret and continually reinterpret the essence of song in a surprisingly and strikingly accessible way. "Goin' Home" is a highlight with its direct references to Ayler, and the similarities in the approaches of the two saxophonists are unlikely to be missed. Given the small number of performers and the extended recording time, all three players are given plenty of solo space, with McPhee the dominant figure. His outstanding solo on "Round Midnight and Later" impresses with its intensity, and his brass work on "Sida's Song" is some of his best on disc. "Wait Until Evening" opens with a striking bass and drums dance, but somehow it goes on a little too long, and even after McPhee enters on tenor it never returns to the same level of excitement.