Matt_renzi-lines_ballads_span3
May 2000

Matt Renzi/Jimmy Weinstein/Masa Kamaguchi
Lines and Ballads
Fresh Sound New Talent

This New York-based trio's collective spirit goes further than the joint leadership suggested by the equal billing on the album cover. Stylistically, tenor saxophonist Matt Renzi, drummer Jimmy Weinstein and bassist Masa Kamaguchi cover familiar post-bop turf, both in repertoire and instrumental format, but they're fond of subverting their expected roles. On a romp through the Charlie Parker gem "Au-Leu-Cha," for example, Kamaguchi retrofits the original Miles Davis trumpet part to his bass, delivering a scrappy, inventive bit of counterpoint to Renzi during the head. On Weinstein's solo drum piece "Dear Max"-named for his one-time mentor Max Roach-he's a melodic soloist as much as a rhythmic one.
Most of the time, however, the trio is content to play it straight, yet even then each member is given equal space. Kamaguchi's lovely, full-bodied, resonant tone and his lyrical solo on the Duke Ellington ballad "My Love" make an impact on par with Renzi's tender interpretation, and no matter how restrained his accompaniment, Weinstein continually manages to exert a pull on the direction each tune takes. While Renzi delves into a little Sonny Rollins-style dissonance on Weinstein's edgy "New Line" and navigates the tricky contours of Monk's "Eronel" like a hard-bop pro, his most rewarding performances come on the ballads like "Turn Out the Stars" and "East of the Sun," his assured, warm tone streaked with the slightest hint of vulnerability.

Originally published in May 2000
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