David Kikoski Trio

Comfortable Strange

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During a 2001 tour of Japan, pianist David Kikoski whisked into a Tokyo recording studio with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts and bassist/Mingus Big Band colleague Boris Kozlov and made this beautiful disc in a day. The playing is characteristically strong; with only seven tracks, the trio is able to take its time and really stretch. Equally striking is the choice of tunes. "Muphkin Man," "Pools of Amber," and "Blutain" are by Watts; they first appeared on the drummer's 1999 debut, Citizen Tain. Of Kikoski's four originals, three are revived from earlier albums. "Spacing" and "B-Flat Tune" are from his self-titled 1994 Epicure session. "Presage" is the title track from his 1989 debut; this new version is twice as long. "Coasting," a lilting mid-tempo piece, is previously unrecorded. Hearing the older compositions in a new context is reward enough for Kikoski's fans, even if one prefers Al Foster's lighter, more contemplative touch on "B-Flat Tune," for instance. Kikoski's take on the Watts material is also keen and fiery. Perhaps the album title sums up his ambivalence about playing music that was first recorded by the late Kenny Kirkland.

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