F-TRIO TO LAUNCH EP
Nine times out of ten, the first question asked when the name F-Trio comes up in conversation is ‘what does the F stand for'? Asking the band directly could provide a reply perhaps more colourful than one might expect, so for the time being let's just take a wild guess, assume it stands for FUN and leave it at that.
F-Trio is essentially Warren Galea on guitar, Alan Portelli on bass and Manuel Pulis on drums, a formation that originally came together in 2011. "Despite coming from different musical backgrounds, we felt a strong connection from the very first time we jammed together", drummer Pulis recalls, adding that in the beginning they also experimented with original arrangements of jazz standards such as Wayne Shorter’s Footprints and Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge. "We all shared an interest in jazz and the art of improvising, but the most important factor is that we're all still evolving as musicians".
Integrating a variety of styles into their playing, jazz obviously, but also elements of rock, funk and Latin music, the trio's main aspirations were to explore new sounds and push boundaries. "In a way, it was more a case of creating the right conditions for the music to come to us instinctively", Pulis continues. "We went with the flow rather than second-guessing what we were doing".
Asked about their music, Pulis admits it's difficult to predict what the general public will make of it. "Well, our previous gigs suggest people have taken a shine to it, probably because apart from the jazz element we also incorporate some funky grooves. As for this gig, there are a few swinging tracks too, and a few other surprises thanks to our fourth member Jimmy Bartolo, who played on most of the songs". Bartolo was initially meant to only play on a couple of songs, but once all the band was in the studio, something happened and the plan changed. "Once the music started coming together, we all felt we should give it a shot, and it actually worked fantastically. Having Jimmy on board seemed to glue everything together even more".
In the coming days, F-Trio will be launching its debut EP F, an initiative supported by the Malta Arts Fund, with a live performance at Django in Valletta on Friday, January 8. "The gig will bring to life the songs on the EP, especially since Jimmy Bartolo will also be joining us", Pulis explains when I ask what can one expect from this gig in particular. "What you can expect is to hear some stuff that not many people are doing on the island. I mean, apart from our traditional stuff we'll be slipping in some tunes to make the people move. We really believe that a gig is what it is thanks to the audience so we really want to make it FUN for everybody there". And there you have it, as good a confirmation as any of the assumption I made at the beginning of this article.