These three are all leaders of their own bands in different places. Here they combine to form what used to be called a super group. The music is all in the blues and bop domain, with easy swing, crisp, inventive solos and a solid rhythmic pulse throughout. Ms Tsuruga and guitarist Dechter play in solo mode and quickly revert to rhythmic duties when their own solos end. Hamilton is the only one whose duties are solely to provide a solid beat on every track and this he does handsomely. His own solos are well structured with attention to the contours of each piece of music.
The three kick off with a solid blues, Mag’s Groove, that gives all three players a chance to shine. Orange Coals is a faster blues written by Dechter. He takes the first extended solo with the other two in full flow behind him. Akiko provides stimulating Hammond organ solos and also manages to keep a solid bass line going at all times, whether she is in the spotlight or not. The Osaka Samba is an attractive line from the organist, a sort of Japan embraces the samba but it all sounds very Latin and has a cracking beat.
Still on the blues and gospel trail the trio next tackle A Baptist Beat, Hank Mobley’s funky line. Taken at much the same tempo that Hank used in the 60s, the piece is very downhome. Dechter manages an original solo spot here; this is very much his own take on the material. Akiko digs in too and there is much of the American bop and blues flavour in her solo and virtually nothing Oriental. There is a personal approach to Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice although the trio keep very much to the spirit of the composition in their straightahead, uptempo reading.
Lion’s Gate is a gentle ballad by Akiko with singing guitar and organ and drums offering flowing rhythm. The set finishes with two hardy standards. Hamilton kicks off I Remember You with crisp brushwork and keeps it moving throughout in the same manner. Fine, well thought out solos from Dechter and Tsurugo follow on. Finally we have This Could Be The Start Of Something Big and who knows, maybe it can at that.
Mag’s Groove; Orange Coals; Osaka Samba; A Baptist Beat; Moment’s Notice; Lion’s Gate; I Remember You; This Could be The Start Of Something Big ( 39.19)
Akiko Tsuruga (org); Jeff Hamilton (d); Graham Dechter (elg). Denver, CO, 24 August 2018.