“There’s an odd but interesting phenomenon frequently in play today in jazz wherein a recorded effort attempts to “move ahead” by looking back on the past and “playing tribute” moebius-like. In some instances, the effort works only on the “playing tribute” level, but, not much more. That’s definitely not the case here. With Three Voices’ “Transitions” Trumpeter Kim Pensyl, vibraphonist Rusty Burge, and bassist, Michael Sharfe collaborate superbly saluting a group of GASers and, with significant taste and flair, deliver a most enjoyable, very easy-to-take CD.
Textures and taste are names of the game on this date. Pensyl’s lush flugelhorn supported by Burge’s sparkling vibes and Sharfe’s restrained, but, highly engaged bass create a palette of pastels that invite interest and are never obnoxious. The material, although presenting classics (“Stella by Starlight,” “It Never Entered My Mind,”) also includes some under-recorded selections from sainted writers (“Ishafon” from Duke, Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing,” et al). All are performed impeccably.
Pensyl’s lush flugelhorn playing – with dynamic and rhythmic grace – demonstrates a marvelous command of his axe and channels both earlier Miles Davis and Chet Baker. He spins solos with elegantly conceived and tastefully delivered ideas. Burge, Tjader-esque, buys wholeheartedly into the restraint and coolness of the date. He’s hip without getting hot. Sharfe keeps all percolating and adds much more than simply walked lines. He swings and speaks a voice. This fine triangle of textures morphs into a unique instrument of its own and musically caresses the vaunted material.
Three Voices’ “Transitions” is an excellent example of classic music performed sublimely with reverence and respect by superior musicians.”
-Nick Mondello, JazzTimes
“Have you ever considered a trio of flugelhorn, vibraphone and bass? Me either. But if you want to hear some treasured tunes played in this off-center context, there’s quite a lovely intimacy created by the trio of Kim Pensyl, flugelhorn; Rusty Burge, vibes, and Michael Sharfe, bass. Previous to this recording, I must admit to having associated Pensyl with a series of recordings that I recall as having been in the New Age realm. So I must admit that he holds forth with warmth and real deal chops on a menu of 14 tunes, almost all of which are noteworthy standards. From Songbook America, there’s “Summer Night,” “Dream Dancing,” “All the Things You Are,” “Stella By Starlight” and “It Never Entered My Mind.” The trio also shines on material from the jazz book, including “Very Early,” “Isfahan” and Jobim’s rarely heard “Fotograpfia.” The interplay between the players is what makes this unusual threesome at times quite compelling. If there’s room for something distinctly different in your musical arena and if you still value “pretty,” there’s a lot of pretty happening here.” -George Fendel, JSO
”…Kim Pensyl and company achieving a fine offering carefully played.” –
– C. Michael Bailey, allaboutjazz.com