Ron Kobayashi

Exotic Places

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One could call this radio-friendly "smooth jazz" fare, but the production is a bit too low-tech to be truly radio friendly. The poppy harmonies and accessible grooves are there, especially on the opener "New Beginnings," as well as "Remembrance," "The Dream," and "Rainforest." But the sound of the recording is too thin to suit this kind of music.

As a piano soloist, Kobayashi is at his best on "Rainforest," but his lines and ideas occupy a sort of middle ground that doesn't generate an album's worth of excitement. Bassist Baba Elefante and drummer Steve Dixon display similar shortcomings. The playing is competent all around, but not stellar.

Covers of the Police's "Walking on the Moon" and Eric Clapton's "Change the World" yield few surprises. Elefante's "Crawfish Hygiene" isn't half bad, however, with its refreshingly dissonant and dark harmonic elements. Kobayashi's "Jagg" is another of the stronger selections.

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