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Toru Dodo Trio at The Blue Note Jazz Club’s Jazz Brunch

Jazz does have a sense of humor. Pianist Horace Silver has proven that throughout his career with titles like "Doodlin’", "Filthy McNasty", "Finger Poppin’", "The Sophisticated Hippie", "Funky Bunky", and "Rockin’ with Rachmaninoff". Fellow pianist Toru Dodo may not have such colorfully named tunes on his new release Dodo 3 (Jazzcity Spirit Productions, Inc.), but his charming wit brought about laughter from the crowd at Sunday’s Jazz Brunch at The Blue Note Jazz Club.

Accompanied by Yasushi Nakamura on bass (Joseph Lepore is the bassist on the release) and Rodney Green on drums, the first of the trio’s two sets was just delightful. It consisted of mostly songs from Dodo 3, his first U.S. release and his third overall. The "Alice in Wonderland" theme was the afternoon’s light fare opener. Dodo’s delicate touch of the keys conveyed the magical journey one can have in playing this music. Nakamura’s woody solo and the light taps on snares and faint metallic ring on cymbal at the end by Green gave the piece glow.

Dodo then generously praised his bandmates; Nakamura for his youth and promising career and Green, donning a feather in his cap, for his prowess and consistency behind the kit (why isn’t this man signed to a label?)

Inspired by the New York subway system, "NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service)" began with sampled sounds from the tracks that signaled a quick entry by the trio. The tune ran and stopped, ran and stopped, just like you guessed it. It was hectic play on the bandstand. Nakamura slid his fingers up and down the fret for a hustle n’ bustle effect. As he soloed, a sampled bit ran underneath that had him fighting to be heard just like on the subway! Instead of it becoming a corny parody of the subways, the trio weaved tightly into the subway din. Well done!

"Boneless and Skinless" is such a cute ditty that is much more complicated than the trio would ever have let on that afternoon. Playing against swiftly shifting accents and time signatures were effortlessly cast off. It compared to Vince Guaraldi’s compositions written for The Peanuts television specials. The audience seemed to enjoy hearing the story behind "Boneless and Skinless" as much as the performance itself. Dodo’s delivery from the stage between tunes should make him consider comedy as a side gig.

For those of you who’ve wondered why no one has yet to invent a spiral escalator, you need not wonder anymore. Dodo has theoretically. "A Spiral Escalator" crept up in a minor key with a drowsy walking bass, like a lonely specter ascending to the widow’s walk, gazing into the double screen of the setting sun and rising moon. "Giacomo Swing", named for the Italian composer, was taken away by Nakamura’s bowed solos throughout as Dodo and Green worked around him with elegant, polished statements and fills.

"Debussy wrote it. Schumann wrote it. Why can’t Toru Dodo write Arabesque?" Why not, indeed? Dodo asks that question in Dodo 3 on the tune "Arabesque". This piece really exemplified the very fluid nature of Dodo’s technique. Like rainwater, the notes just dripped off of his fingers. One of Dodo’s favorite compositions is "Bolivia" by pianist Cedar Walton. This standard plays itself and can quickly become trite. The trio injected the piece with brightness and agile melodic lines. The dessert of the Brunch was "My Romance". It was beautiful. It was as if Dodo smoothed it out with his fingers across the keys. With this ballad, he demonstrated that he is comfortable in all zones. "T. Dog’s Theme" closed the set with brilliant flash and hard play.

For those of you who missed this most enjoyable performance with pianist Toru Dodo can catch him hosting the Sunday Jam Session at Cleopatra's Needle in New York City.


copyright@2007 Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Toru Dodo
  • Concert Date: 3/18/2007
  • Venue: The Blue Note Jazz Club
  • City State Country: New York City
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