Jeff Babko: Mondo Trio (2007)
These eminent session gurus roll up their sleeves and let the good times roll on this power-packed and rather idiosyncratic studio session. Multifaceted keyboard artist Jeff Babko pulls out the proverbial stops here with saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Béla Fleck & The Flecktones) and all-universe drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Nonetheless, the musicians let their respective chops fly during a conglomerate of hammering sax and keys jaunts amid a smattering of free-form episodes and much more.
Swap out the guitar element for Coffin's sax performances sans a bassist and the band generates a Tony Williams Lifetime vibe in spots, largely due to Babko's torrid Hammond B-3 lines, a la Larry Young. Colaiuta's polyrhythmic fury is consistent throughout, while the trio exercises its right for more than a few intergalactic meltdowns. Spiced with catchy hooks and periodic nods to classic 1970s prog-rock, the band also dishes out energized funk grooves, layered with Babko's quirky synth lines.
They parallel the inferences of catastrophic weather conditions on "El Nino, where Babko's dainty electric piano voicings counterbalance Colaiuta's hyper-mode drumming and Coffin's melodic sax choruses. With "Ride the musicians lay down a groovy funk vamp. But diversity is the key as they also venture towards free-bop vistas, catapulted by Coffin's soaring choruses and Colaiuta's merciless rhythmic maneuvers. Therefore the sum of the parts intimates a program that should keep most listeners on the edge of their respective seats. Quality material and a no-holds barred mindset offer the path to victory during the prevalence of this supercharged set.
Track Listing: Head Trauma; Vote 4 Morals; Five Before Happy Time; El Nino; Akimbo; Ride; X Marks the Spot; Young Dr. Jung; Love Theme from Mondo Trio.
Personnel: Jeff Babko: Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3, synthesizers, noises; Jeff Coffin: tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, percussion; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums, percussion, cymbals.