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Frank Kohl Quartet

Rising Tide

PONY BOY RECORDS PB50186-2 [51:16]

 

 

Rock and Roll

Rising Tide

With Tears of Joy

Richman Poorman

Love Letters

Late Night

My Romance *

Beautiful Love

Frank Kohl (guitar): Tom Kohl (piano): Steve LaSpina (bass): Jon Doty (drums)

Recorded Tedesco Recording Studio, Paramus, NJ, March 2015 except * live Metropolitan Room, NYC, March 2013

]

This is Seattle-based guitarist Frank Kohl’s fourth CD as leader and here we find him working with his New York quartet. That means his brother Tom takes the honours at the piano stool whilst Steve LaSpina and Jon Doty are bassist and drummer respectively. This tight group runs through eight cuts in this 51-minute disc and it functions as an excellent reflection of their talents.

Foremost among the corporate strengths is the easy-swinging but never complacent rhythm summoned up. Five of the pieces are originals by the leader and Rock and Roll shows the ease of execution and of vivacious swing engendered by the quartet, graced by an excellent piano solo. The guitarist is a deft stylist, leaving plenty of spaces in his solos, never forcing the issue, and as he shows in Rising Tide, another original, one capable of extracting considerable colour. Variety ensures the groove never settles predictably and the charming ballad With Tears of Joy (another original by Kohl) brings a laid-back feel, encompassing blues-tinged pianism and a fine variety of stately swing. Richman Poorman – which is how Kohl spells his composition – shows yet again that Kohl writes fine originals with strong themes, ones that prove excellent vehicles for relaxed and never flashing improvisation. Late Night, for instance, is a swing-bop hybrid with a blues riff coursing through its veins; a fine bass solo and repeated piano lines encourage a brief but telling solo from drummer Doty.

Two of the standards are by Victor Young. In Love Letters we can hear both the tonal warmth Kohl generates as well as the clarity of his articulation whilst he takes Beautiful Love solo, dispensing with his confreres for a quiet and taut meditation. The anomalous track is Rodgers and Hart’s My Romance which comes from a live gig at the Metropolitan Room two years earlier. The recorded acoustic is obviously different - with the piano more distant, drums closer and crisper, and some overlapping guitar lines. It’s a good example of the band ‘on the wing’ though it does stick out in this otherwise all-studio undertaking. I’d have welcomed another couple of studio takes instead.

Otherwise this is certainly a band to hear – on disc or live.

Jonathan Woolf




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