KBB — Age of Pain
(Arcangelo ARC-1162, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-09-20It’s been a while since we’ve heard something new by this Japanese instrumental quartet featuring the whiplash violin of Akihisa Tsuboy and the keyboard prowess of Toshimitsu Takahashi. There is no guitarist in the band (there is no air left in the room with those two), but the adept rhythm section of Dani (bass) and Shirou Sugano (drums) are a superb support unit in almost any style the band takes on, and this time there is certainly a lot more variation in the styles that they blend together. There’s a heaping helping of ripping jazz-rock as well as some gentler Stéphane Grappelli type moments, along with some folky and traditional touches and a dollop of classical savvy blended in across the board, sometimes all going to varying degrees at the same time. Across all of the disc’s eight tracks, the keyword here is tasty; the stylistic approach to each piece is very different and that keeps it interesting, but the result is always excellence. The slow-builder “Lythrum” is a case in point – it’s a slow pastoral tune with a very strong melody, led by violin with beautiful embellishments on piano. Follow that up with “Kernel,” a launch into a fusion of the band’s traditional influences and some mind-blowing jazz-rock that recalls Jerry Goodman in his days with Mahavishnu Orchestra mixed with a little Return to Forever circa Where Have I Known You Before. Just a couple examples. With KBB there’s always something exciting and unpredictable around the next turn.
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