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OKB TRIO

The Ing ...

Queens Jazz OverGround QJOG-1801 [69:50]

 

 

 

  1. The Welcome Song

  2. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

  3. Hi-Heel Sneakers

  4. Milena

  5. El Padrino

  6. Please Send Me Someone To Love

  7. I Remember You

  8. Pirouette En Dedans

  9. Safe Passage

  10. March 3rd

  11. Tristeza

    Oscar Perez - Piano

    Kuriko Tsugawa - Bass

    Brian Woodruff - Drums

    The OKB Trio takes its nomenclature from the initial letter of the first names of each group member. They first got together when drummer Brian Woodruff was responsible, each week, for the musical input for the Blackbird Bar/Restaurant in Queens, New York City. On one such occasion, in June 2010, pianist Oscar Perez and bassist Kuriko Tsugawa were invited along and there was an immediate rapport between the three of them, which led to the formation of the trio. Oscar Perez is a native of Queens, whose influences include Cuban folk music and gospel. His previous trio album, with different personnel, Prepare A Place For Me, was released in 2015 and showcased his emerging talent. Kuriko Tsugawa who is Tokyo-born, obtained a scholarship to Berklee College and, after a period in the Boston area, she moved to New York City about twelve years ago. The artwork for the album was by Kuriko's husband, Daisuke Abe, himself a jazz guitarist. As well as being an experienced drummer and a composer, Brian Woodruff produced the CD. The reason for the unusual title of the disc is the group's avowed intention to put the 'ing' back into 'swing' (ouch!).

    The album is an eclectic mix of material written variously by trio members (two tracks each), or by blues/R&B artistes (a further couple), plus two standards and a Latin number. The overall standard of performance is high but the Robert Higginbottom (aka 'Tommy Tucker') composition Hi-Heel Sneakers is especially appealing. It is a lively offering, blessed with a catchy melody, tinged with the blues, in which all the musicians give a good account of themselves. Tristeza is a stylish samba, where Perez plays with panache and proves to be a triumph for the trio as a whole. Throughout the CD, the accomplished bassist Tsugawa is afforded ample solo time, and Woodruff is dependably skilled on drums and percussion. Of the two standards, I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter comes out rather better than the bop-ish I Remember You. The former track is not only longer but presents more scope for Perez to demonstrate his virtuosity, as soloist and accompanist. Milena, a Tsugawa original, is a gentle, romantic piece, intricate at times but a fine vehicle for the group. March 3rd, also by the bassist, has another intriguing theme, touched with melancholy and played with assurance. Woodruff's Pirquette En Dedans swings sweetly and contains some delicate brushwork from the composer and dreamy keyboard work. The opening track, The Welcome Song begins slowly then picks up pace and becomes more emphatic. The empathy between group members is palpable. I was less convinced by El Padrino and Safe Passage, though both have their moments.

    This album is marked by a generosity of spirit and a willingness to share the spotlight. It is an enjoyable journey through quite diverse material, united, however, by the quality of the musicians. Lovers of jazz piano trios will find it well worth their consideration.

    James Poore

 


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