Natural Sounds Trio
Natural Sounds Trio have the funk. Formed after splintering off from funk-soul group Taurus Authority, the ensemble of drummer Jake Najor, bassist Christian Schinelli and saxophonist/ flautist Harold Todd charted a deeply grooving path of their own. Previously named NST to reflect their last initials (and pronounced “nasty”), Natural Sounds Trio is what happens when three musicians with combined decades of experience come together and let the funk flow.
The trio’s self-titled EP features four songs that showcase four different flavors of groove. No track features any additional overdubs beyond the performances of the three musicians in the group, and none of them need it—the “natural sounds” aren’t just a clever acronym, but an accurate reflection of the band’s actual playing style. Their chemistry and creativity is ultimately what makes these four songs interesting and endlessly listenable.
Leadoff track “Breakin’ Through” is the longest and most complex of the four tracks, featuring a hypnotic minor-key bassline from Schinelli, which creates a backdrop for Todd to provide a blend of soul ful and avant garde flute leads that find the centerpoint of the venn diagram where Bobbi Humphrey and Eric Dolphy overlap. By comparison, “Gettin’ Ready” is all pocket all the time, Najor laying down a harder hitting rhythm that drives a funk vamp worthy of James Brown.
“Roll Call” is simultaneously a bit more laid back and more badass than the two tracks that precede it, employing an infectious strut reminiscent of Bill Withers’ “Use Me.” Meanwhile, “Memphis Two-Step” closes out the EP with a 12-bar blues pattern that’s both energetic and a lot of fun. There’s a good balance of familiarity and freshness in the four tracks that Natural Sounds Trio collect here, none of them a radical reinvention of funk, soul or jazz, but an appealing combination of the three nonetheless. And that has a lot to do with the combined talents of the three musicians involved. When you put a trio of well-traveled veteran musicians together in the same room, with a palpable musical chemistry, then—as is the case with Natural Sounds Trio—you’re not going to get anything less than a stellar result.