Estonia, one of the three Baltic maritime nations, has a history of being receptive to jazz. Oscar Peterson gave a memorable concert in Tallinn in 1974 while the country was under Soviet domination. Jazz and other musicians are taking advantage of the recording facilities offered in the country, Ryo Kawasaki among them. He collaborates with three of Estonia's leading jazz artists, Toivo Unt on bass, Aivar Vassiljev on drums, and Kristi Keel on English horn on Reval, the ancient name for Estonia. This is an especially intimate session because it's live in the studio with all musicians present and playing. Kawasaki's guitar is like a chameleon, changing tone and texture, from electric to acoustic, to fit the music. On "Giant Steps," he is especially chordal, capturing the impressions created by John Coltrane's masterpiece. The guitar is pitched higher for the Estonian folk song "Long Ingliska," jazzed up by Kawasaki's arrangement, and is one of the liveliest pieces on the album. The soulful English horn of Kristi Keel gets a lot of time on this cut. A clean-stringed attack comes into play on a fast-paced Kawasaki piece, "Maximillian," percussively adorned by Vassiljev's drums and some high-speed bass walking by Unt. The choice of this tune to kick off the album was fortuitous in that it sets the table for the good stuff to come. And one of those follows immediately in a romantic rendition of "You Don't Know What Love Is," recalling Mundell Lowe's classic interpretation from the 1950s. An especially melodic version of Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" serves as a perfect coda to an album of a discriminating session by a guitarist with an artistic mixture of technique and soul for the music. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan