Trios are one of the music world's great make-or-break tests. Solo and duet works are interesting, sometimes arresting, but the trio is the real demarcation point for bands. Most ensembles start there—guitar, bass, drums usually—and then bulk up, but the cats who have the most in the way of chops and confidence keep it stripped down and prefer to walk the tightrope. That's what Matt Kane's done as a percussionist, sitting athwart Dave Stryker on guitar and Kyle Koehler on organ. If you're thinking in terms of John Abercrombie's favored milieu, that's a good start, 'cause John revels in this kind of atmosphere, but Matt's gig is appreciably differentiated, preferring the bop/trad/lo-fusion side rather than Abercrombie's often spectacular outings (and, hell, even when he's laying back, Abercrombie's daunting).
No, this is more in the mode of Pat Martino, early George Benson, Grant Green, Jimmy Smith, that sort of lamplit beatnik/hipster milieu inhabiting the back alley juice joints and low-profile dives specializing in audiences who engage cerebrum while snapping fingers and tapping feet. Kane's the absolute foundation here, and his solid approach was founded when he years ago dropped in on one of Kansas City's highly respected Mutual Musicians Foundation's jam sessions, fucked up mid-song, and was told by famed area bassist Daahoud Williams that, hey bubba, "kids night is on Wednesday". OUCH! Well, Kane licked his wounds for the next two years woodshedding, and, not one to back down from a challenge, returned to the exact same place and the exact same guy, but this time to a very warm reception from Williams, who became his mentor.
If that sounds like a zen tale, it is. Art's not all that different from a demanding spiritual practice (just ask Coltrane), and Kane had the grit and internal resiliency to keep the grail firmly in mind. With this CD, he's reached his proper sphere and perhaps the closest comparative that may be drawn is to the estimable Jack DeJohnette, 'cause when Kane's on fire, as in Shadowboxing…hoo boy!, stand back and hold onto your wig. Anyone who thinks drummers just keep time will be burnt and enlightened. From start to finish, his performance is pure finesse. Good thing, too, because Stryker and Koehler know their milieu and provide a number of moody landscapes requiring a broad palette of emotions and cogitations. Thus, if I haven't made it already obvious, don your thinking cap and shed the daily grind when you nab this disc, 'cause it'll take you away from the banality of the everyday, reminding one and all that there's a fuck of a lot more to life than hedge funds, successions of duplicitous presidents, and radio shlaga. When you hear the take on Earth, Wind, and Fire's That's the Way of the World, you'll be racing back to the days of Hank Crawford, Charie Byrd, Jimmy McGriff, and an era that's slowly being rediscovered.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles