As evident from the name, Crimson Jazz Trio was created by former King Crimson drummer Ian Wallace with the premise of almost “reinventing” the music of King Crimson with jazzy renditions. It certainly is an interesting experience to listen to jazz versions of progressive rock classics.
It must also be a hard challenge to maintain the unpredictable and energetic feeling of King Crimson’s music in this different genre. But your doubts should quickly dissolve when you hear the renditions of songs like “Starless” and the “21st Century Schizoid Man”. For example, playing the main guitar line with a bass in “Starless” is a genius idea that makes you look at the melody from a whole new perspective. In a way, limiting the amount of instruments to 3 really brings out the raw part of King Crimson and from this limitation, perhaps the most important aspect of the album is born: making the songs their own while still being loyal to the source material. You can see the creativity of Jody Nardone and Tim Landers’ notes flow through your expectations to create a whole new world of what King Crimson is and can become. Don’t get me wrong, this is still King Crimson at its core; but it is also somehow something more than that at the same time. They don’t compromise in order to make the songs more like the original, which is something that we absolutely respect.
During his official King Crimson career, Ian Wallace appeared on Islands (1971) and the subsequent live album Earthbound (1972). Although his involvement was short, King Crimson Songbook features songs from the band’s discography both before and after Wallace’s time. However, this does not stop the band from creating such a detailed masterpiece that sometimes, you have to listen multiple times to actually get the small bits they borrowed from the original.
Overall, this album is recommended to all who like King Crimson as well as some good old jazz, or generally to anyone who wants their expectations subverted.