Lonesome Tree was released in 2000, into one of the most melodiously gorgeous jazz albums of any year, with more than one of the nine originals- by either Hammack, Kreibich, or both as co-authors, having the makings of a jazz standard. And to boot, the listener is rewarded by the optimistically upbeat Another Moon of the late Eric Von Essen, which adds still another dimension to the album’s overall attractiveness.
Though well-knitted, none of the tunes come across as being tightly woven; the preponderance being taken in a relaxed mode, notwithstanding Gross’ pondering nature. Attuned harmonically and thoroughly modern modern in his approach, Gross’ sound and melodic inventiveness has the kind of appeal that recalls Wayne Shorter.
Kreibich, though it is not so readily apparent, generally adds to the tunes’ superficially casual manner while still securing a firm pulse, regardless of his particular rhythmic stance on any single tune; a pulse also in which Smith, while being supportive (in addition to some fine soloing, is no more obvious.
Kreibich’s infectious funky Space Mistress, undergirded by Roman Bamda’s percussion, however, is a marked exception. But despite its pronounced beat, its overall feeling is still loose.
In any case, Kreibich and Smith allow Hammack, who is really in the lead, to form beautiful melodic passages within the tunes’ elegant harmonic structures, thoughtfully adding, as she moves through them, to the sublime character of each.
Lonesome Tree is a must listening for all who are drawn to superiorly crafted and thought-provoking compositions which have the attraction of possessing a winsome combination of beguiling melodies, well-reasoned harmonies,attentive improvisations, all motivated in their own rhythmic way. it rightfully deserves to bask in the warm glow of the best in a very long list of modern acoustic jazz.
-Russell Arthur Roberts