Mark Kleinhaut Trio: Holding the Center

Mark Kleinhaut of Maine has four previous discs under his belt, including two with formidable special guests (Tiger Okoshi on Chasing Tales, Bobby Watson on A Balance of Light). This new album features Kleinhaut in a trio setting, playing 13 originals with bassist Jim Lyden and drummer Les Harris Jr. It’s essentially a mainstream jazz date, but Kleinhaut incorporates sonic elements that set it apart. On “Intro to Sister Cuba” we hear the recorded sounds of children playing. The sounds continue as Kleinhaut strikes a meditative mood on solo acoustic guitar. “Sister Cuba” follows, in an uptempo samba feel, with Kleinhaut on electric. The Latin theme returns on “Shells on Ancon Beach” and “Passing Bird.” The more straightahead cuts include “Logical Extension,” “Green T” and “Gospel of B.”

In another sonic departure, Kleinhaut employs looped effects and synthesized textures as coloring on the bright 3/4 title track and the ballad “Forgotten Song.” He also throws in a turntable sample on the Charlie Hunter-ish “Erika’s 8:30 Rule.” The sounds are interesting but a bit underdeveloped, and the contrasts don’t always hang together. Watch for Kleinhaut’s future efforts, though. He may be on to something.

David R. Adler

David R. Adler writes about jazz and assorted topics. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, NPR Music,, The Philadelphia InquirerThe Village Voice, DownBeat, Time Out New York and many other publications. From 2010-2017 he taught jazz history at the Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College-CUNY). In summer 2017, after 30 years in New York (apart from two in Philadelphia), David relocated with his family to Athens, Georgia. There he continues to write about music and perform solo as a guitarist/vocalist.