The power trio has a long and distinguished lineage in rock music. Cream provided the initial guitar, bass, drums prototype that was picked up and continued by other seminal groups like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Cheer, The James Gang, Rush, ZZ Top, The Police, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Nirvana, and Green Day. Since there is no keyboard and no secondary rhythm guitarist in the group, each member of the power trio is expected to wear many hats and carry a heavy musical load.
One of the finest latter-day power trios is the one formed by guitarist John Mayer in 2005 with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino. Prior to the formation of the John Mayer Trio, the popular perception was that Mayer was a bubblegum heartthrob artist who wanted run through the halls of his school screaming at the top of his lungs that his girlfriend’s body was a wonderland. The Trio introduced Mayer as a guitar player of remarkable skill who had paid some serious dues in the woodshed listening to guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Mark Knopfler.
The following is a video of the Mayer Trio from a 2005 concert at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. It is a multiple-camera video with excellent sound. The performances are tight and quite energetic. Mayer, who is considerably younger than his bandmates, did well in hitching his wagon to the likes of Jordan and Palladino. They lent Mayer’s music a certain weight and gravitas that was lacking prior to the band’s formation. I’m sure Jordan and Palladino were compensated handsomely for their efforts.
My favorite Palladino will always be the fretless Pino that I grew up hearing on pop radio. But I gotta say, Pino with a Fender P Bass through an Ampeg SVT-VR head into an 8×10 cabinet makes a righteous noise all its own. Basspirational!