Tad Britton

Tad Britton was born in Sturgis, South Dakota. This is why the album’s title, Black Hills, is his debut as a bandleader. The Seattle-based drummer led an unusually jazzy life. He started in country music as a teenager, and spent a long time in the official House Band of the Church of the Subgenius called the Swingin’ Love Corpses in the ’80s. His long association with Jeff Johnson, the mellow bassist, provides a better insight into Black Hills’ content. Britton, Johnson, and pianist Marc Seales have no special relationship with any particular subgenre of modern jazz. They prefer a simple, meditative approach and a preference for unusual covers that might work in a piano trio context. This includes James Taylor’s song “Fire and Rain”, Michel Legrand’s piece “The Windmills of Your Mind”, and most unusually, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” which is transformed into a sad ballad. These aren’t attention-grabbing hack jobs such as the Bad Plus’ covers of alt-rock songs. They are simple, respectful versions that take familiar songs and find surprising byways within them. They are just as good, recalling a more contemplative, less experimental version of E.S.T. These are definitely worth a listen. Allmusic

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