Mark Kleinhaut

Secrets of Three

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The Maine-based Invisible Music label occupies an important niche in the world of jazz recording, serving as the sounding board for talented musicians -- mostly Maine residents -- who see their mission as adding to the literature of jazz music. But the music they create is designed to appeal to as broad a spectrum of listeners as possible, by combining elements of traditional, straight-ahead, and modern jazz forms. This philosophy is embodied in guitarist Mark Kleinhaut's Secrets of Three, his second release for the label. Leading a trio, he travels through a play list of nine original compositions. His music is sufficiently varied and, when married to the skills of the musicians, allows for almost an hour of pleasant aural sensations. Like his songs, Kleinhaut's guitar avoids falling into a rut as it acknowledges the influence of a diverse set of guitar masters. On the romantic ballad "Not a Poet," his clean sound is reminiscent of Al Caiola while avoiding the cloying sentimentality that characterizes Caiola's later work. The music on this piece, by the way, belies the song's title, as it is very poetic sounding indeed. Vestiges of the explorative Jim Hall, the classic tendencies of Johnny Smith, and the modernism of John Scofield are apparent. "Zingat," which opens with Mark Macksoud's urgent, getting-your-attention drumming, has Kleinhaut working rich chordal tones, while "Veterans Day" is a relaxed, laid-back performance. The harmonies on "Nanoprobes" are closer to avant-garde than any other on the album. The probing bowed bass of Jim Lyden is prominent on this cut. Kleinhaut's playing partners serve him and the music well. An album highlight is a cordial conversation between the guitar and Macksoud's drums on "Say That You Will." Lyden's dark, deep bass serves two purposes: It lays down a solid foundation for Kleinhaut and softens the drums' sometimes insistent statements. This very well-conceived effect makes Secrets of Three highly attractive and recommended.

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