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Left of Center: Crossing the Water

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Left of Center: Crossing the Water
Whether the title of this album, the performing group's name, or its leader's surname have additional meaning is positively irrelevant because this performance is a winner. It is a bassist-led trio album offering engaging sonic textures which spin and entice throughout.

The title cut sends things into up-tempo action with Justin Kauflin's keyboard sounding the call. Highly rhythmic and intense, the energies build as the trio exhibits a superb interplay of ideas. "Lorac Waltz" gives us a triple-metered melody which not only its mirrored-titled person, "Carol," but Bill Evans' "Debby" would like. It is a platform of laid-back textures where the playing of these three fine musicians is sensitive, focused and swinging. Brydge is a muscular bassist with a great sound and total command of his instrument throughout this track and the entire date. Kauflin, a protégé of Master Clark Terry, plays with supreme confidence and maturity here. His playing since his work with Terry has matured and places him now in top-tier keyboard circles. Drummer-percussionist Emra Katari is a musical rhythm- maker indeed, certainly one of the most musical players heard in a long while.

The trio is wonderfully symbiotic on the theme-developed burner, "Wistful Gaze." It is the most intense track on the album. The back- and-forth between keys, bass and drums is relentless. Brydge is a rock, driving with intensity, and goosing his playmates along brilliantly. "Remembering the Rain" is the only non-original on the session (all others are Brydge originals). The beautiful, impressionistic prelude gives way to a fine interpretation of the Bill Evans ballad. Kauflin's Rhodes is absolutely killer. The melodic lines drip from his fingers and are countered by outstanding cymbal and set-work from Katari and tasteful Brydge support.

A second take—not an alternate take musically—of "Crossing the Water" ends the session and is presented with such flair that, if the melody were not the same as Track 1, one could swear it stands completely on its own, which it does. Crossing the Water is certainly one of the better albums of any ensemble-size encountered in 2020. It is a sublime, brilliantly-performed "Brydge and Team" over our troubled 2020 waters. Pay the toll. This crossing is worth it.

Track Listing

Crossing the Water I, Lorac Waltz, Wistful Gaze, Remembering the Rain, Crossing the Water II

Personnel

Justin Kauflin: piano; Chris Brydge: bass, acoustic; Emre Kartari: drums.

Album information

Title: Crossing the Water | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced

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