Japanese pianist Toru Dodo has lived in New York for over ten years. A player with a significant range and style, he's been making a splash on gigs and sessions, most recently with the Pete Zimmer Quintet (Judgment, Tippin' Records, 2006). But within his own group (a trio with bassist Joseph Lepore and drummer Rodney Green) on DoDo 3, he truly shines.
The way the pianist interprets improvisation and melody is enjoyable. "Boneless and Skinless dances as the three players interject humor and quirky antics into the music, whereas "Arabesuque moves with sweeping elegance. The trio shows the art of exploiting a simple vamp on compositions like "R or B, which linger pleasantly in memory long after the music has ended.
Also evident is the trio's symmetry: one player never overpowers the others. Though the piano is the primary lead instrument, the roles are slightly reversed on "Giacomo Swing, where Lepore's bowed strings lead the melody. Green's drumming provides contoured lines on "Inside Bubbles and the classic "My Romance.
Dodo makes a resounding progressive statement on "NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service), a jagged piece with sampled subway sounds and a nice bridge between frenzied sections. On "A Spiral Escalator, Lepore's upright leads a slow and circuitous pattern that swells in tension. Dodo's soulful and thoughtful performance of the solo piece "For Mr. M shows another side of the pianist. The recording ends with the jazzy "T. Dog's Theme, with a slight hip-hop influence reminiscent of pianist Jason Moran's recent works. All in all, DoDo 3 is a refreshing release from a new player worth checking out.
R or B; Bolivia; Boneless & Skinless; Inside Bubbles; NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service); A Spiral Escalator; Arabesuque; Giacomo Swing; Brush Pitch; My Romance; For Mr. M (Sazae's Theme); T. Dog's Theme.
Toru Dodo: piano; Joseph Lepore: bass; Rodney Green: drums.