The trio setting has always been one of my favorites, allowing simplicity as easily as sophistication, it can be heard as a band or as 3 individuals, and of course, being piano oriented, it is a perfect platform for pianistic display. When there are only three of you on the stage you can't help but be aware of every sound and know where the other two want to take things musically. That “intuitiveness” doesn't happen all the time, with just any players, but when it does, the musical/harmonic restrictions transform into more of a vast open path for you to create something new. This is why I love to compose and arrange new music for the trio.
Currently, I have recorded five trio CDs as a leader; my first two recordings were produced by Maynard Ferguson for Concord Jazz and my latest three were released on my independent label WilderJazz.
Having Maynard Ferguson produce my first two projects was beyond amazing. I had been touring with his band for a while and he wanted to kill two birds with one stone: he wanted to start producing young musicians, and he wanted to push me out of his band and onto a solo carreer of my own. The first recording was aptly titled "Maynard Ferguson Presents Christian Jacob", with John Patitucci and Peter Erskine and the second was titled "Time Lines", with Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum. I have to say that I am really proud of both projects.
My latest three recordings each had their own personal concepts: For “Styne and Mine”, I wanted to record Jule Styne who was definitely an under-recorded composer in the world of piano trio. Next came “Contradictions” where I wanted to draw audience's attention to lesser known compositions that I felt had somehow slipped “under the radar”, composed by the late fellow Frenchman pianist Michel Petrucciani, known more for his great playing than for his composing. Finally, my latest CD “Live in Japan” is the only live recording of the five, and takes a quick look at the Japanese culture with three Japanese melodies that every Japanese person knows. I also added some original compositions and some standards.
The arrangements are a major part of all my projects. If I can arrange a well-known song in such a way, that it's like hearing it for the first time, then everyone wins. A different take on a famous melody has always opened and tickled my mind, I'm just trying to tickle the listener's mind the same way. Some songs are harder than others because a previous recording of it was so famous and loved. Or the song has been recorded so often that I don't feel inspired by it.
My last three recordings have Trey Henry on Bass and Ray Brinker on Drums. We've developed such a great chemistry over the years that I just had to record with them. Trey Henry's creativity expands beyond the usual bass player; he plays, hears and contributes while feeding new ideas out of an active imagination. Ray Brinker, while having a fiery, powerful energy always surprises you with his ability to be delicate and precise.