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Ron Kobayashi Trio, Exotic Places (CD, 57:49), Carpet Cat CCR107, 1998
Carpet Cat Records
P.O. Box 3601
Tustin, CA 92781
Phone: 714-289-0364
E-mail: rkoba@aol.com

            I'd say this is 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 and empty 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, and no one has sufficient 
chops or personality to fill the room.
	Covers of The Police's "Walking on the Moon" and Clapton's 
"Change the World" yield few surprises. Elefante's "Crawfish Hygiene" 
isn't half bad, with its refreshingly dissonant and dark harmonic 
elements, but it does sound like Weather Report, exposing the 
bassist's over-reliance on the Jaco mystique. Kobayashi's "Jagg" is 
another of the stronger selections. But overall, this trio's a bit 
too polite for my taste.	~David R. Adler

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