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Light Flight Pentangle

Keith Emerson Trio

Keith Emerson Trio

Cherry Red 2015

Review by David Bowling

 

I don’t know what happened to bassist Geoffrey Sheppard or drummer David Keene but 50 or so years ago they were part of the Keith Emerson Trio and cut an acetate of seven songs in the living room of Emerson’s boyhood home.  They used a one microphone machine and made four copies. Like thousands of teenage groups before and since, the acetates sat in closets and that should have been the end of it.

We all know what happened to Keith Emerson. He formed the progressive rock band The Nice and then founded Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, which continues down to the present day. He is now recognized as one of rock music’s iconic keyboardists.

These early recordings recently re-surfaced and now the seven songs come to CD for the first time. They were never meant for release but serve the purpose of presenting the music and piano skills of Keith Emerson in their formatives stages. Their primary value is historic and should please Emerson’s and ELP’s fan base.

During 1963 Emerson was fronting a basic keyboard, bass, and drum trio. They worked various clubs and affairs to earn a little extra money and basically practiced in Emerson’s living room. Their sound was a cross of light jazz and rock.

Two Emerson compositions are included. “Winkle Picker Stomp” and “56 Blues,” the street number of Emerson’s home,” are early looks into the musical mind of an 18 year old learning his craft. The skills are present but there is a structure present that he would quickly out-grow.

“You Say You Care” was discovered by the trio on a John Coltrane album. Emerson does his best at following the lines of this adopted jazz song. “You Came A Long Way From St. Louis” finds Emerson channeling country pianist Floyd Cramer.  “Teenies  Blues” may be the albums best track as it shows Emerson at the beginning of his creative process.

The self-titled Keith Emerson Trio album is a release aimed at at people who have appreciated his music and the sound is quite good considering the source. It fills in an early gap in the career of a keyboardist who has been part of the musical landscape for half a century. Not great music but certainly interesting.

Rating: ***

 

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