Kombo is a breath of fresh air in contemporary jazz, and its Hammond B-3, Rhodes and Wurlitzer wall of sound is as welcome on the airwaves as a dry martini, baby. On its second CD, Cookin' Out, Kombo digs further into the past with festive interpretations and mighty originals of soul-infused jazz and R&B. Co-leaders Ron Pedley (keyboards) and Jon Pondel (guitars) obviously are having fun with their tight and tasty tunes. (Early contemporary-jazz fans may remember L.A.-based Uncle Festive, Pedley and Pondel's creation of more than a decade ago. That band knew how to have fun, too, and is still favored by many.)
The fun covers include War's "Low Rider," Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic," which features Sharon Hendrix's clear, sultry vocals, and the medley "Use Me/Green Eyed Lady," which takes the Bill Withers and Sugarloaf songs and mixes together the dominant melodies of both at the same time.
Kombo's originals are dominated by Pedley's organ and, while Pedley, Pondel and a bevy of guest artists tackle solos and engage in back-and-forth musical exchanges, a polished and very contemporary jazzish professionalism surveys the jamming below it. Kombo rocks, but Kombo also is smooth.