Ron Brendle

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North Carolina bass player Ron Brendle continues his association with creative pianist Frank Kimbrough with this, his second album. Working in a familiar trio format, they interpret a play list comprised mostly of modern jazz compositions, with a couple of originals and a standard rounding out the program. It's the standard, "Some Other Spring," that sums up the group's stylistic predilections -- thoughtful, organized, and deliberate. Kimbrough's intelligent chord progressions are built on the foundation laid down by Brendle's bass. The group exhibits a degree of synergy, as if the musicians were able to read each other's mind in advance of the next few measures. On "You Only Live Twice," with Kimbrough occupying his usual out-front position, Brendle's bass works to fill the space between the pianist's harmonics while the trio's drummer, Al Sergel, slides in and out with telling but not presumptuous percussive shots. Matters get livelier on "Bemsha Swing," as Sergel opens with a short solo. Kimbrough then comes in, abandoning his flowing style in favor of angular playing fitting for this Thelonious Monk classic, reinforced all the way by Sergel's simple percussion. This tune is immediately followed by a representative of a subsequent stage in the development of modern jazz, "Enfant," by avant-garde jazz pioneer and leader Ornette Coleman. It would have been very easy for the group to exercise such a level of stridency on this piece that all equilibrium in the playing would be lost. To their credit, while they retain the special character of Coleman's music, it's presented in such a way so as not to drive away the less adventurous jazz fan. Here is 53-plus minutes of alluring and high-quality jazz. Recommended.

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