Though you'd never guess it purely through the listening, the spark and modus for this way mellow trad jazz trio CD is religion, the Christian version, and guitarist Mike Arroyo is a well-educated pastor in Puerto Rico who just happens not only to dig jazz but to be quite adept at serving it up. Full Circle is a lounge-bar CD, a set of lazy balmy afternoon recitals by three cats who play with easy but assured and well honed hands. Organist Kyle Koehler is decidedly the fireball of the ensemble when given free rein, but drummer Vince Ector gets his licks in as well, and you can catch 'em both going at it in The Old Rugged Cross. All three follow a sturdy tradition while getting in lots of improv, so I wouldn't say the boys are exactly what one envisions when thinking of, say, Catholic priests playing Dixieland at a high mass…though Fellini might well dig that contradiction.
The lit notes claim Koehler has bit of Larry Young in him. I disagree, as Young was an out-there kinda guy. Catch his work on John McLaughlin's Devotion for some of the mind-blowingest psychedelic work ever to emerge from the organ, and the point is made. Koehler's much more a Jimmy McGriff / Jimmy Smith / Jack McDuff devotee locked into the classic sound. His fluid colorations add much dimension to Arroyo's preternaturally relaxed approach as Ector singly lays out the full rhythm section (with Koehler adding in clever bass pedals every so often), getting his own chops in, oft seeming to be two guys in one.
Arroyo, though, traces Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Ponder, Grant Green, Phil Upchurch, and others as his jumping-off points, with a bit of Metheny's Chautauqua period tossed in for good measure (and, c'mon, you know Pat had his ear well glued to the past masters when he started out). The man's unshakeable in an icy cool old school wont but frequently manages some great, f'rinstance, early Benson chopstering runs during In the Garden and elsewhere. I'll be god…er, I mean 'goldanged'…if I can detect church steeples, hymnals, and Sunday-go-to-meeting paraphernalia—and certainly not fire and brimstone fulminations—in Mike Arroyo's work, quite the opposite in fact, so, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with a tall Long Island Iced Tea, a chaise lounge, the sun, and another listen to Full Circle. If you're in the neighborhood, you'll be able to pick me out by the big smile and the long sigh.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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