Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio at Constellation Review – Refreshing Drum-Free Jazz

Rosetta Trio:LIBERTY ELLMAN · acoustic guitar JAMIE FOX · electric guitar STEPHAN CRUMP · acoustic bass, Photo:NathanJamesLeatherman
Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio, Photo by Nathan James Leatherman

It wasn’t easy getting to the performance of jazz bassist Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio at the Constellation music venue in Chicago; I’d had a thorny array of challenges at work, traffic was atrocious, there was a mix-up with the tickets, and I felt drained and dispirited by my long day.  I slipped into the Constellation music venue a few minutes late, and already thinking about how soon I could make my escape.  But – and I am not exaggerating – within the first few bars of music performed by Stephan Crump’s all-strings Rosetta Trio, I felt refreshed and revivified, as if I had stumbled upon a clear, burbling stream on a hot and oppressive day.  That’s what great music does.

Stephan Crump Bass Musician, Photo:JR Delia

The Memphis-bred, Brooklyn-based Crump was a founding member of the Vijay Iyer Trio, has been nominated for a Grammy, and has performed with an impressive array of rock performers and other jazz ensembles, but with his Rosetta Trio has found a new and deeply pleasing sound.  The press materials describe that sound as “hard-grooving,” but to my ears, the refreshingly drum-free sound was more contemplative, intricate and poetic than that description would imply. 

Stephan Crump, Bass Musician, Photo: Nathan James Leatherman

The drumless trio consists of Crump, Jamie Fox and Liberty Ellman, and their interplay is at once impressively tight and languid.  Crump is both figuratively and literally the center of attention; his diffident-seeming mien transforms utterly once the music begins, and he, and his playing, rivet the audience’s attention.  The trio’s new album, Outliers, is highly recommended.  So, for that matter, is the Constellation music venue; I’m a jazz fan, but for some reason Constellation had never previously appeared in my line of vision.  Their website lists many appealing upcoming events, including an appearance by one of my favorites, the Grazyna Auguscik Group. If you’re a jazz fan too, check out their website for upcoming performances. 

Stephan Crump. Bass Musician, Photo: JR Delia

As far as Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio itself, they have shows coming up in Cedar Falls, Iowa; South Bend, Indiana; Worthington, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; and Portland, Maine.  If you find yourself in need of some musical and spiritual refreshment and live in one of these cities, you’re in luck.   

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