The Necks | photo by Holimage | courtesy of the artist
The Necks will ring in 30th anniversary at Philadelphia Art Alliance
Lean and intimate yet affording a vast palette of possibilities, the piano trio has proved to be one of the most resilient and malleable units in modern music. From the elegant finesse of Bill Evans to the skewed-angle eccentricities of Thelonious Monk, down to modern innovators like Vijay Iyer’s rhythmic expansiveness and The Bad Plus’ droll provocations, the deceptively simple set-up of piano, bass and drums provides seemingly endless opportunities for exploration.
Over the last three decades, The Necks have taken full advantage of those opportunities. The Australian trio – pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer Tony Buck – don’t just go deep; they’re sonic spelunkers, venturing into darker, more mysterious corners and finding unexpected treasures typically hidden from the light. They craft massive structures from tiny moments, typically taking the form of single, hour-long pieces that are allowed to grow and evolve at a relatively glacial pace.
The trio’s latest, Vertigo (Northern Spy), is a prime example, an hallucinatory 45-minute blend of shimmering color and dancing textures that’s as entrancingly disorienting as its title suggests. The Necks will celebrate their 30th anniversary on Wednesday, March 23rd with an Ars Nova Workshop-presented concert at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The current tour is the first time in five years that the trio has made it Stateside, so take advantage of the rare opportunity to catch one of their monumental improvisations of minuscule delights.