Japanese national and Berklee Music School graduate Toru Dodo is clearly a brilliant, hip, inspired jazz pianist, as evidenced on this, his third recording as a leader and first available in the U.S., though curiously enough, not released in his homeland. It's America's gain, and the world at large, to enjoy this modern acoustic keyboardist whose singularly unique talent is extant and quite listenable on this trio effort. It's is a program of original music, save two standards, and identifies Dodo as a progressivist who has listened to the Herbie Hancock-McCoy Tyner-Cedar Walton strain, but has swiftly achieved an original sound. The stream of melodic and harmonic ideas is astounding on repeated listenings, displaying a facility for quirky phrases and witty time changes that would rival a much more experienced player. And play to the hilt he does during the impressive "R or B" and "N.Y.U.C.S," the former a spirited funk with shifting time segments, the latter a 10/8 burner perfectly depicting the hustle and bustle of the New York City subway system at rush hour. A Boston Red Sox fan, Dodo pays homage to the inside fastball on a taken aback, hot modern neo-bopper "Brush Pitch," uses a Japanese dancing motif theme on "For Mr. M," subliminal swirling minimalism during "Arabesque," and prodding beats of seven and eight alternately on Walton's off minor flavored "Bolivia" and another spirited groove song "T. Dog's Theme." Lest you think Dodo is all energy and chops, he shows he can play pretty on the standard "My Romance" and the waltzes "Inside Bubbles" and "Giacomo Swing." Every cut is intriguing, there's no filler here whatsoever, top to bottom. Heard on tour with New York drummer Pete Zimmer's ensemble, and more recently with Curtis Fuller, Randy Brecker, and Craig Handy, Dodo is proving himself a major new voice on the contemporary scene, with potential for much more. Get in on the ground floor with Toru Dodo, and this exceptional recording.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos