Billy Test Trio is reviewed by Exclusive Magazine

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by Russell Trunk

Title – Coming Down Roses
Artist – Billy Test Trio
For those unaware, Pennsylvania native Billy Test is a pianist, composer, arranger, and educator.

Currently holding the piano chair in the Grammy award winning WDR Big Band in Köln, Germany, Billy splits his time between Europe and the United States, maintaining a busy schedule as a performer, composer, and educator.

After having performed on several recordings as a sideman, Coming Down Roses (out August 13th, 2021) is Billy Test’s debut as a bandleader.

With a focus on Test’s original compositions, the nine tracks on the recording showcase the trio from every angle of their musicianship: the ability to wail, to cry, and to live and breathe creatively as a single unit.

1. All of You (6:53)
2. Spinning (7:05)
3. Fate (7:16)
4. Hardly (7:24)
5. Empty Spaces (4:47)
6. Coming Down Roses (6:43)
7. The Prince (6:29)
8. Mother’s Day with Freud (7:41)
9. Belonging (7:00)

Opening on the lesser-played Cole Porter standard All of You, the trio put their own mark on it, breathing new life into the under-rated track and back that up with the softer textures of Spinning, the simply heavenly and delicate orchestrations of Fate and then we get the frenetic collective fire, not to mention a blazing drum solo from Ian Froman, on Hardly.

Next up is the ornate solo piano piece (written in loving memory of Test’s deceased father on the tenth anniversary of his passing) Empty Spaces which is itself backed by upbeat and perky title track Coming Down Roses, the album rounding out on the resonating melodies of The Prince (composed by John Coates, Jr., one of the trio’s unsung heroes, and a his homage to one of his own heroes, Boston Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant), the experimentally fervent wonderment of Mother’s Day with Freud, closing on the sensitively beautiful Belonging.

Billy Test: Piano
Evan Gregor: Bass
Ian Froman: Drums

When in the United States, Billy primarily performs with his trio, featuring bassist Evan Gregor and drummer Ian Froman.

Evan Gregor is an in-demand acoustic and electric bassist that has worked as sideman with masters including Gary Burton, Dave Liebman, Phil Woods, Bob Dorough, Phil Markowitz, John McNeil, Vic Juris, Ed Cherry, Urbie Green, and Bill Goodwin.

A seasoned creative and working musician, Ottawa, Canada native Ian Froman moved to the U.S. to study Jazz Performance, first at Berklee College of Music, then with Elvin Jones at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, and then with Miroslav Vitous at the New England Conservatory.

Ian is a faculty member at Berklee College of Music, Drummers Collective, New School University and City College of New York.

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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