If there's one thing jazz musicians don't want to hear, it's that for many people, their music is too complicated.
For guitarist Vinnie Rose, the key to winning an audience is avoiding a common trap: playing too much.
That's one thing Rose, bassist Jeremy Boettcher and drummer Adrian Suarez avoid in Triose, a trio setting that allows them plenty of room to find a new creative groove in songs from different eras.
"What we're really trying to accomplish is good music," Rose said, "not complicated music, not music that is so far above the average listener that they can't relate to it, but also not so dumbed down and watered down that people that have any type of education can hear that we're not even putting any thought into what we're doing."
In a show Thursday night at St. Paul's Artists Quarter, the three musicians will join trumpeter John Raymond in a performance that is sure to show how they capture the essence of jazz tunes and pop songs with improvisational spirit.
When Rose, Boettcher and Suarez look for tunes, they pick strong melodies and play them in an improvisational yet accessible style.
Much of their repertoire will come from a recent recording, "Live Vol. 1: Shanghai Bistro," recorded at the restaurant in Eau Claire, Wis. It's a CD of diverse influences, from the jazz standard "My One and Only Love" to the Lennon/McCartney tune "And I Love Her."
Rose picked the latter after he heard it on Pat Metheny's "What's It All About" solo recording of a couple of years ago.
"I just instantly gravitated to it just because of the simplicity in it," Rose said, adding the key to playing it as a bossa nova in a jazz setting is not to overplay it.
"As we've been playing it in recent months we've actually even backed off even further," he said, "trying to give each other even more space, letting the song just kind of be there as opposed to playing just tons and tons of notes -- which I think is also the thing that jazz guys get in trouble with."
The three musicians met more than a decade ago at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. They reunited in the Twin Cities and began performing frequently last year.
“If you can't play a blues, you can't play jazz. That's just the truth.”Vincent Rose, guitarist with Triose
While they like contemporary music, they're hooked on jazz roots, especially the blues.
"The three of us, Jeremy, Adrian and I ... we have a strong respect for the jazz tradition, which of course ... starts out with the blues," Rose said. "So if you can't play a blues, you can't play jazz. That's just the truth."
It's not about the notes musicians play, Rose said, but how they play those notes.
"If someone can't sing what you're doing, or they come to one of your gigs and they hear you play a solo and they can't sing your solo back... then I think you've just missed it," he said.
The three musicians also comprise a strong rhythm section. That makes Triose a great foundation for a trumpeter like Raymond, whose big, bright sound rides high on the groove.
"Collectively, they have an enormous palate from which to draw from," Raymond said. "But what's more is that each of the members of Triose sincerely enjoys all of these influences. They've gotten beyond the technical aspects of learning the music, and now associate each style and genre with a particular emotion that comes through very clearly when they play together. All of this allows them to communicate and interact with listeners in a really special way."
Triose doesn't rely much on special effects. Instead, the musicians opt for a clean sound that requires inventiveness, big band drumming and fat bass notes.
"One of the things that we pride ourselves on is just swinging out, taking that swing and just killing it. Just beating the dog," Rose said. "That's what I always call it -- beating the dog when you're swinging out."
That kind of playing gives Triose a big sound -- one that won't scare anyone away.
• Find performance information at www.triosemusic.com