Album Review of
Way Out Trio

Written by Joe Ross
April 7, 2024 - 8:04pm EDT
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Based in France, The Way Out Trio are Antoine Lucchini (saxophone), Olivier Lalauze (upright bass) and Léo Achard (drums). Antoine Lucchini studied for two years at the IMFP in Salon-de-Provence, played the clubs in Brussels, and then moved to Marseille to resume studies at the Aix-en-Provence Conservatory where he obtained his Diploma of Musical Studies in Jazz. Olivier Lalauze, with DEMs in jazz and classical double bass, is regularly called upon as an accompanist, directed his own sextet, composed and arranged a considerable body of material, performed regularly with The Shoeshiners Band, and accompanied flamenco singer Luis de la Carrasca.  Over ten years ago, drummer Léo Achard joined and graduated from the Aix-en-Provence Conservatory. He currently teaches drums, works as a self-taught sound engineer, and performs with a variety of bands.

I enjoyed hearing all the tracks on The Way Out Trio’s EP album that range from the 3-minute "La Cicatrice" to 9-minute "Blues, Bridge, Blues & Beyond." The emphasis on originality was impressive, and it allows the trio to present its "way out" style that is certain to gain them a fresh audience of jazz fans. The five compositions begin with some fairly complex melodic ideas, and then the trio develops them with improvisational integrity, fluidity and continuity without overplaying easily fingered riffs, patterns or your typically clichéd figures.

While clearly influenced by Lester Young and Charlie Parker, Lucchini incorporates elements of saxophonists John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins such as deep and richly textured timbre ala Coltrane, as well as broad and more coarse guttural expressions ala Rollins. His vibrato also varies from slowly deliberate to more abruptly explosive. By using both legato and staccato phrasing, Lucchini mixes up his attack while also featuring ornamentation, softening and other dynamics in his improvisation.        

Bassist Olivier Lalauze demonstrates impressive instrumental proficiency and musical imagination. His solos are cleanly executed, and Lalauze shows how virtuoso bass playing can contribute much more to a trio's overall sound than just to keep time. The Way Out Trio's music definitely journeys in various directions, but some standout moments spotlight Lalauze's bass in a melodic role, sometimes arranged to mimic or play in unison with Lucchini's sax lines. That was a technique employed very effectively by bassist Jimmy Blanton in the musical arrangements of Duke Ellington. Lalauze's own style also seems to have elements of bop bassists Oscar Pettiford, Charlie Mingus and Ray Brown when we hear certain melodic concepts, strong percussive sounds, big tone, confidence, force and emphasis on every note.

What caught my ear about Léo Achard's drumming is how flexibly well he interacts with the sax and bass. The trio's exciting sound is reinforced by Archard's increasing the frequency and spontaneity of his kicks and prods to add accents and colors to solo lines. He also seems aware of how drummers like Kenny Clarke and Max Roach altered their timekeeping on the bass drum by playing it more gently or feathering it. By using his cymbal or high-hat in certain ways, he also provides a smooth rhythm with a continuous (legato) sound characteristic of bop music of the 1940s and 50s.

I also hear elements of more contemporary influences such as the trios of Walter Smith III and Joshua Redman. Technically assured, The Way Out Trio presents a full, warm sound that is personal, flexible, soulful, logical and strong. Besides using a variety of melodic devices, phrase lengths and rhythms, they utilize their own inventions. Their music isn't that predictable, and I enjoyed their complicated solos and accompaniments. It's a great approach for a trio with tenor sax, bass and drums. The complex music moves right along with instrumental virtuosity, rich chord changes, frequent surprises, and biting tone qualities. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)