is the third release by Maine-based guitarist Mark Kleinhaut
. Kleinhaut’s regular trio consisting of bassist Jim Lyden and drummer Mark Macksoud is the centerpiece of this CD. The under-appreciated Japanese trumpeter Tiger Okoshi also joins the trio, which should certainly be to the surprise and delight of many.
Kleinhaut was a student of the great bop guitarist Ted Dunbar at Rutgers University, which also afforded him the opportunity to play with Kenny Barron and Frank Foster. But Kleinhaut has developed a style markedly different from his early mentors. His approach to guitar playing is much more contemporary, and his mastery of the instrument is even more notable considering that he has been a full-time member of the banking and financial community for nearly twenty years.
The trio’s sound is based on a freely structured ensemble counterpoint where guitar, bass, and drums usually do not fall into the traditional roles of a swing or bop rhythm section. With Kleinhaut usually leading the way, the instruments all share in providing both the thematic and rhythmic components of Kleinhaut’s compositions.
Each of the nine selections on this CD is an original composition. Eight of them are by Kleinhaut, with one, "Erika’s Livingroom", by Okoshi. According to Kleinhaut, each of these compositions was intended to tell a particular story by using musical elements to create moods that reflect senses of place and particular attitudes. Though more rooted in the hard-bop style of players like Freddie Hubbard, Okoshi’s playing melds nicely with the guitar-led trio, adding both warmth and a precision edge to the music. Okoshi’s tune, "Erika’s Livingroom", provides the best chance to hear these two artists interact. They perform the piece as a duet, and Kleinhaut’s inventive accompaniment demonstrates both his impressive technique and harmonic sense.
While this album is not a traditional ‘guitar-led rhythm section plus horn’ offering like "The Bridge" by Sonny Rollins or Warren Vache’s "What Is There To Say?", I found this CD to be very enjoyable. Especially pleasing was Tiger Okoshi’s work with the group. Tiger is certainly one of the better players who somehow fell through the cracks during the bout of "Wynton-itis" suffered by the jazz world during the 1980’s. Find this CD and give it a listen.