-- which became a quartet soon after its formation but has continued to be known as a trio in name only -- was formed by Matt Darriau
in 1994, a few years after the multi-reedist moved from Boston to New York City. The band has provided a small-ensemble context for Darriau
to continue the sort of stylistic fusion he began exploring while a member of Boston-based big band Orange Then Blue
: a melding of jazz and creative improvisation with the melodies, modes, and rhythms of Balkan, klezmer, Celtic, and Gypsy folk music traditions. In addition to Darriau
, the band's earliest incarnation featured percussionist Seido Salifoski
from Macedonia and cellist Rufus Cappadocia
(noted for his "ethno-slap-funk-cello" style) from Hamilton, Ontario; Brad Shepik
soon joined the group on guitar, and the quartet continued without a lineup change throughout the '90s and well into the 2000s.
Along with Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio
, and Brad Shepik & the Commuters
(all including Shepik
), during the '90s Paradox Trio
were in the forefront of New York groups melding an edgy downtown sensibility with Eastern European and Middle Eastern influences. The group became known for its rousing shows at the Bell Café in New York's Soho (Tiny Bell Trio
derived its name from the same venue) and the Knitting Factory, the well-known downtown club whose label released the ensemble's eponymous first CD in 1995. The Knitting Factory label also issued the Flying at a Slant
CD in 1997 and Source
, an album that investigates early-20th century music of the Ottoman Empire, in 1999. The band's Knitting Factory discs have unfortunately gone out of print, but Paradox
were still going strong as of the mid-2000s, with club and festival appearances and the release of 2005's Gambit
on the Enja label. Paradox
have also performed live in accompaniment to classic silent films; an excerpt from the band's performance of Darriau
's score to the Salvador Dali
/Luis Buñuel surrealist landmark Un Chien Andalou can be heard on the What Is Jazz? 1996 CD, which features live tracks from various artists who performed at the Knitting Factory's creative jazz fest that year.
During the 2000s, after the heyday of the downtown scene had passed, New York's "Gypsy punk" bands began receiving considerable attention from Brooklyn live music scenesters and music critics -- Paradox Trio
could easily be seen as forefathers of the Gypsy punkers, albeit with a stronger jazz sensibility. In fact, in terms of direct connections, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev
of Gogol Bordello
has been in the Paradox
orbit, performing live with the band on various occasions (and also touring in a duo with Darriau
), and Slavic Soul Party!
, another band of the 2000s often included under the "Gypsy punk" rubric, included Darriau
in a touring lineup.
While often considered primarily a creative outlet for Darriau
, Paradox Trio
have served as an important working group for all four of its members, with Shepik
second to Darriau
in contributing arrangements for the band. As Shepik
continued to increase his involvement -- both as leader and sideman -- in other groups during the new millennium, guitarist Dave Fiuczynski
(Screaming Headless Torsos
, Hasidic New Wave
) would sometimes replace him as Paradox Trio
's guitarist in live appearances.