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Toru Dodo: Dodo 3 (2006)

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Toru Dodo: Dodo 3 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Toru Dodo's name may not be at the top of people's lists of riveting jazz pianists—yet—but with recordings like Dodo3, such recognition could come soon enough. The album is full of catchy compositions that showcase Dodo's individual, unique and modern voice; his acrobatic trio mates—Joseph Lepore on bass and Rodney Green on drums—fly around complicated structures and rhythms with energy and precision.

The standout composition "NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service), for example, could be mistaken in a blindfold test for the Bad Plus at their more adventurous, given its rhythmic, harmonic and structural boldness. But the piece is not derivative in any way; it bears Dodo's original signature throughout its unyielding gallop forward. (Its sample of a #1 subway line conductor announcing stops is an added pleasure for Manhatto-philes.)

The album opener "R or B is another compelling composition, with varying propulsive rhythms and tempos, changing colors of minor and major 7 chords and two-handed, staccato passages. "Arabesque shows a classical influence with its steadily flowing current of arpeggios, while on the solo piano "My Romance, Dodo demonstrates he can play a ballad the old-fashioned way—spare and tasteful with choice sprinkles of melody.

Other highlights which are notable for combining rhythmic playfulness and catchiness are "Brush Pitch and "Boneless & Skinless, while the penultimate track, "For Mr. M (Sazae's Theme), is especially not-to-be-missed. Like a mini Keith Jarrett solo movement, it evolves in three-plus minutes from a gentle and wistful song to a rolling blues and gospel-soaked vamp.

Track Listing: R or B; Bolivia; Boneless & Skinless; Inside Bubbles; NYUCS; A Spiral Escalator; Arabesuque; Giacomo Swing; Brush Pitch; My Romance; For Mr. M (Sazae's Theme); T. Dog's Theme.

Personnel: Toru Dodo: piano; Joseph Lepore: bass; Rodney Green: drums.

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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