Connecting this music with the semi-insane sparkle of Schnack is like trying to find an association between children running wild in a garden and the polite enthusiasm of spectators at a Wimbledon final. Simple Game, the latest outing by Paul Hubweber, Paul Lovens and John Edwards, is a fairly conscious attempt to look well-dressed while maintaining the exploratory traits of unadulterated free improv. From the very first seconds we detect a propensity to the enhancement of “softly booming” frequencies in the equalization, as the persistently colloquial stance of the trio disobeys to the exaltation of solipsism, privileging purposeful ensemble work. There are no train wrecks, no squeals, no burps and groans; for the most part, the musicians let their sound emerge somewhat gradually, only rarely commanding attention for a truly noticeable dynamic change (it happens, though: for example, about eight minutes into “Smell It”). The fine texture generated by this combine of interplaying virtuosos is something to hold dear, a remedy against the obsolescence filtering through too many of today’s jazz-derived trio outfits. Edwards’ bass is a fat smiling Buddha embracing the nether regions of the mix like a big mamma, all girth, goodness and grin. Lovens explores new methods of rhythmic proliferation without relying on regular pulse, resolutely attentive to every single blip, a 24/7 radar station capable of homing in on just where “that” accent should fall next. Hubweber remains the joker (of sorts) of the group, yet in this particular instance the unpredictable transcendence of his smirking technique is somehow bound to relative restraint, which is even more agreeable in a context where a polyhedral attitude is a must. For the listener, too.


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