Walsh Set Trio, "Set One" (Nine Winds)
"Cal Arts ain't no clone factory. Musicians who come out of that university sound like themselves, and it's usually worth making their acquaintance.
Clarinetist Brian Walsh, for instance, has woven himself into the fabric of L.A. improv for some years alongside Vinny and Nels and the gang; I think this trio thing is his first record as a leader. It's avant, sure, but he gives you a star to steer by.
Without disrespect to the hi-flites of Benny Goodman and Barney Bigard, Walsh favors the darker hardwood ranges of the clarinet, which he wrangles in its B-flat and bass manifestations. His tone is clear but rich, his technique crisp but unfussy. And as an improviser, he can spin off strong centrifugal flow, knowing to stop before he runs out of ideas. For untrammeled whammo, Walsh indulges in a couple of pad-rattling solo excursions that banish any evil spirits of restraint.
The trio's "Set One" sports a certain tension between freedom and communication. One senses that drummer Trevor Anderies prefers the gently stirred cymbals and rumbling toms of "14," so the slightest current of irony surfaces when he's required to swing a straight titty-boom, as on "Blues for Lee Van Cleef" (with Walsh's dryly incredulous clarinet commentary), or when he's called upon to take a quick blues walk, as on the boplicious "Ivar's Octopus." Still, he's aware that kind of stuff is where the audience connection lies, and bassist Colin Burgess' big, confident boom throughout makes the same entrée.
Still, these dudes make no apologies for their eccentricities -- you can't miss the quirks in the thunderfoot unisons and Tuvan vocal accents of "Eserav" or the tweet, roll & sproing of "The Imp." A good compromise: "The Madness of Hans Petter Bonden," combining hard angles with the drive of a hoppin' contrapuntal tango.
Most approachable, though, is the sole non-original, "A Little Pain," Walsh mentor Bobby Bradford's tribute to Billy Strayhorn. It's got a pretty melody, a gently butt-twitching rhythm, a bluesy segue and a sensitive offbeat jam, which should be about all you need.
Imaginative musicians, of course, are never satisfied until the wheel has been thoroughly reinvented. Who says it's gotta be round?"
Live Review: Timur and the Dime Museum at the Central Library
By Erica Zora Wrightson
"Oh, and a bass clarinet solo from Brian Walsh during "I Put A Spell On You" that was so completely dirty it would have made Screamin' Jay Hawkins shriek. "
From a review of drummer Trevor Anderies – “Shades of Truth” album. Reviewed by Dave Sumner of the great blog Bird is the Worm
"The bass clarinet of Brian Walsh may very well be the highlight of this album, and definitely one of the best recorded bass clarinet performances in 2013. That he can bring an airy lightness to an instrument of such heavy feet gives the music an emotional depth that doesn’t become overburdened with unnecessary seriousness. “Three-Four vs Six-Eight Four-Four Ways” lets Walsh show a propensity for attaining fast speeds in the pursuit of irresistible tunefulness."