WBGO Radar

Stephan Crump's Rosetta Trio: Thwirl


Since 2005, bassist Stephan Crump and Rosetta Trio have been driving home a simple and economical idea - that you don't always need a drum kit to add a pulse.

On Thwirl, Rosetta's third release, the band has found a way to make music with an undeniable sense of camaraderie, and you can hear each member contributing in equal parts.

"One of the things that we’ve been exploring in the group is different angles on feel," says Crump.  "Different structures within the groove which lead to different opportunities to groove and different ways for us to respond."


Rosetta Trio came together to record an album of pieces written in the aftermath of 9/11. That encounter, with Crump on acoustic bass with guitarists Liberty Ellman (acoustic) and Jamie Fox (electric), produced a first album, Rosetta, in 2006 and a second, Reclamation, in 2010.

Now there's Thwirl, a made-up word meant to convey a dancing and playful aspect with more thickness and gravity than a simple twirl. 

The recording captures a group on the heels of a two-week European tour and a few US dates, so they were nice and warmed up.  Singer-songwriter Jen Chapin's new album Reckoning also features this ensemble at its core - "Which she lifted from me," Crump says approvingly (the two have been married for more than a decade).

The opening piece, “Ending,” begins with Crump unaccompanied on bowed bass, then fingers forward with pizzicato touches and beautiful solo lines from the guitarists. 

“Reclamation Zone” missed the cut on Reclamation and gets a proper airing on this new recording. 

We also hear "Still Stolid," a composition originally on Crump's Tuckahoe - repurposed and recast for the trio. 

“He Runs Circles" is inspired by Crump’s youngest son, Van. "Before he could piece together the incessantly beautiful sentences that he does now, he would express his affection by running circles around you. "

Thwirl shows us that dad and friends can string stories together in an elegant and direct manner too.

                              - Josh Jackson, WBGO VP of content

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