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Ken Rhodes Trio: Live at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art

From their home base in North Carolina, pianist Ken Rhodes (who’s performed with jazz luminaries throughout this country and Europe), bassist Matt Kendrick and drummer Thomas Taylor Jr. have toured the Southeast as a trio for more than five years. Live at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art documents a concert at what was once one of the Winston-Salem, N.C., residences of the R. J. Reynolds family (of tobacco renown) but has since been converted into an art museum. The setting was ideal for the intimate sound of this excellent mainstream modern ensemble.

The somewhat staccato touch that Rhodes sometimes employs speaks with fine clarity, as does Taylor’s crisp cymbal work. Their nicely balanced program includes bright, straightahead numbers, jazz waltzes, Latins, a jazz-pop arrangement and even an exotic piece written to feature the house’s 1912 Aeolian pipe organ. Rhodes composed four of the charts and Kendrick one, with most of the rest by the likes of Matt Dennis, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim and Bud Powell. The performers consistently play at a high level, both in their ensemble work and in their solos. High points are local trumpeter Al Neese’s medium up “Blue and Silver,” which makes one suspect the “Silver” might be Horace, and Powell’s blazing “Hallucinations,” which sets a rollicking groove that doesn’t let up.

Originally Published