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Andrew Kushnir: Influences

Don Phipps By

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Judging from the album cover, a coffee-filled cup on a drum, one might anticipate that drummer Andrew Kushnir's debut album, Influences, would be a hard charging affair. And Kushnir and his trio (Ryan Slatko on piano and Rick Rosato on bass) do not disappoint. The trio offers up some head-bobbing jazz at its finest.

Piano trios need strong contributions from the piano to convey the spirit of the music, and Slatko's solos explore bop, swing, and blues riffs, often in stunning fashion. And his contributions are ably supported by Rosato's deep bass sound and Kushnir's playful drum escapades.

The album explores music of Monk, Rollins and Mulgrew Miller. Importantly, each of the three musicians contributes an original composition of their own to the mix.

The album begins with a rousing bop version of Monk's tune "We See." The piano melody offers excitement and is supported by the steady propulsion of the bass and drums. Slatko's lines suggest more Tyner than Monk and Kushnir's solo not only showcases his talent but has echoes of Art Blakey and Roy Haynes.

Slatko's composition "Prospect of Love" provides a modal bluesy motif, and the shifting meter adds color to the tune. However, the piece never loses sight of its bop-centered rhythm and it happily swings along. Slatko plays a great piano and there's some fun back and forth with Kushnir's drums towards the end of the piece.

On the Sonny Rollins' tune "Why Don't I," Rosato's bass drives the music forward. Slatko offers a charming, crisp reading. Kushnir adds some playful solo work during a back and forth between drums and the trio as the piece concludes.

Rosato's "Migrations" lowers the temperature in the room a bit. This peaceful interlude gives Slatko the opportunity to offer one lyrical line after the next and the rhythm section supports his explorations. Rosato offers up a great bass solo and Kushnir explores various subtleties of the trap set in the background.

Kushnir adds his own bop tune "Bu" to the mix. Slatko and Kushnir alternate solos and it's very much a hoot and holler affair.

The album concludes with Mulgrew Miller's "When I Get There." The trio offers up the tune as a bluesy dreamy romp, suggesting a lazy summer evening urban stroll. Slatko shines with a fascinating blues solo.

There really are no wasted notes on Influences. Every note has a purpose—to propel the music along. And if you enjoy energetic straight-ahead bop, blues, and swing, this album is definitely for you.

Track Listing: We See; Prospect of Love; Why Don't I; Migrations; Bu; When I Get There.

Personnel: Ryan Slatko: Piano; Rick Rosato: Bass; Andrew Kushnir: Drums.

Title: Influences | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Independent

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