The first jazz trio I played in was, let’s see, 1996-ish, when I was still in college and my audience was either captive, or as naive as me regarding quality jazz music. The trio then consisted of Chuck Locuson on the drums (he’s now high up in a pharma or biotech company, according to LinkedIn), and Alan Vary on the bass (Google can’t find him). But, those 2 or 3 gigs were a fantastic learning experience, and I had people tell me we were doing a good job.
Let’s flash forward about 20 years, circa 2015. Here I was, playing a lot of music with some great players in the Craig Martin Experience and D.K. & the Affordables, sitting in now & then with the Ryan Finn quintet on Tuesdays, and playing the odd solo gig. I wanted to stretch out a bit and try something new. Hence, back to the trio format.
Rob Heineman & John Frary were my natural first choices to fill out the rhythm section since, well, I’ve played with them. A lot. Like me, they have other stuff going on and weren’t looking to play much more than I was, so it seemed like a good fit.
Rob’s been an Affordable since D.K. re-formed the band in 2010, and he’s held down the low end in the Craig Martin Experience since around 2011. Before that, there was Fat Guys With Money, the Tiho Dimitrov Band, Julie Stewart and the Motor Kings, and other great local New Mexico legends. Rob is a solid bass player, has great musical sense, and is a fantastic guy to hang out with. I’m glad he was amenable to being a part of this little experiment.
John’s the heartbeat of the Craig Martin Experience, and has become quite adept at keeping us in the groove. One of the things I look for in a drummer is sensitivity to what’s going on in the moment of a performance, and John has honed his powers of observation by listening to as much music as he possibly can. And, he’s also just a really cool guy.
We all agree that the trio leaves us much more exposed than the septet we were accustomed to. It’s definitely raised the bar, and we’ve all had to up our games as everyone solos, everyone gets intros and endings, everyone brings material to the table, everyone has input in arranging. While it’s my nickname on the bill (“Double A” dates back to high school soccer, when there were 2 Aarons on the team), it’s really a team effort. I couldn’t do it without them.
We base a lot of our repertoire on tunes from the popular “Real Book” series, a catalog of songs dating back to the 1920s and including jazz standards, show tunes, bebop, and funk. We have also rearranged 1960s folk tunes and the odd classical tune to fit the jazz idiom. We also have a handful of originals. Look for the Double-A Trio at a venue near you!