How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
It's a pleasure to hear an album that is recorded as it was played. With just a minor dubbing adjustment on one track, what you're hearing on the latest album from the Ron Kobayashi Trio is precisely what they played in the studio. There's no "creative" mixing which, in my view, is akin to revising history constructing something quite different from what actually happened which is the forte of many of today's so called young lions of jazz. Kobayashi has also backed off from the smooth jazz foray of his last album, although there are vestiges of it in "Are You There". But even there the pianist's hearty improvising keeps this tune from falling into monotony that often characterizes that genre. "Blues for Thelonious" honors Monk with jagged harmonies that were the foundation of such tunes as "Well You Needn't". Another impressive piece is bassist Baba Elefante's "Chromonktic Blues" where Kobayashi settles in a groove coaxing from it every bit of exquisite sound the tune has to offer. "Alone" also recalls some of Monk when he was working in a trio format. This track gives plenty of room for drummer Steve Dixon to show his worth, not so much as soloist, but as the driver of the rhythm. Elefante sets aside the electric bass on this cut to illustrate that he is an outstanding technician when working in an acoustic mode. As the last track, it finishes the album on a very positive note. Kobayashi continues to mature in his compositional and pianistic skills and ingenuity as this recommended album so conclusively demonstrates.
Track Listing: Plastic People; What Is; Are You There; Chromonktic Blues; Counter Culture; McCoy's Diner; Blues for Thelonious; In the Ozone; Alone
Personnel: Ron Kobayashi - Piano; Baba Elefante - Acoustic and Fretless Electric Bass; Steve Dixon - Drums