The great American composer and bandleader Edward Kennedy
“Duke” Ellington was the first to say it outright: “It don’t
mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing.” And how right he was.
The Viper Mad Trio has taken the Duke’s lesson to heart,
instilling all their music with tons of swing and plenty more
besides, all delivered with sophisticated nuance and musical
singularity seldom mastered by such young musicians.
Central to the trio’s
stunning exposition of the fundamental elements of trad-jazz
swing is guitarist and vocalist Molly Reeves, a wise, old
musical soul with a creative vision embodying decades of hipster
musical experience despite her youthful, pixyish appearance.
Emerging from California's active trad jazz scene, she found
herself, along with two other young California trad-jazz alumni,
bassist Kellen Garcia and trumpeter/vocalist Ryan Robertson,
inexplicably drawn to the spiritual home of trad jazz, New
Orleans, where they formed the Viper
Mad Trio, taking its name from a composition by another
New Orleans jazz giant, clarinet and saxophone player Sidney
For material to define
their sound, the three young musicians mined the rich repertoire
of pre-WWII, small-combo jazz, a body of music often marked by
an exuberant and often humorous approach that eventually
influenced well-known bandleaders like Cab Calloway and Louis
Jordan. What makes the Viper
Mad Trio stand apart from other latter-day purveyors of swing,
is an intimate and smoothly integrated sound -- less like a
vocalist with a back-up band but more like a classical chamber
quartet, with each element -- vocal, guitar, trumpet, and bass
-- playing off each other and interweaving in an overall sound.
With youthful talent to spare and intense musical passion very
much in evidence, the Viper
Mad Trio already impresses with its musical mastery and artistic
originality, all the while swinging just like seasoned veterans.