Tenor saxophonist Odean Pope's latest trio CD is called "Ebioto," which stands for "Everybody Is on Their Own." At times Wednesday night at Blues Alley, Pope's trio, featuring bassist Tyrone Brown and drummer Craig McIver, did sound as if they were distractedly out on their own.
The song "Ebioto" is a difficult one to begin with, and the trio struggled through it. The tune's staggering rhythms, Pope's behind-the-beat soloing and Brown's subdued walking bass lines never quite clicked as they do on the CD. The unevenness and unsureness of "Ebioto" may have been due to Pope's problems with his saxophone; he left the stage midway through the song and let Brown solo so he could tend to it. Pope could be heard fiddling with and blowing on his horn upstairs; when he returned, the group finished the song with a lot more strength of purpose.
With the second tune's speed-metal-like breaks--imagine the first two notes of the "Jaws" theme--that would explode into breakneck bop, the trio found its way again. The band followed that up with a crisp funk tune written by Brown, as Pope grooved deeply with his grainy tone. Brown's solo spotlight, "Emerald Valley," allowed Pope to go fiddle with his instrument again, before he came back and the band closed with a straight-ahead swinger in which the trio sounded fully together and not out "on their own."