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New York Electric Piano: Citizen Zen

The Fender Rhodes electric piano occupies a unique spot in the keyboard pantheon: not quite as unhinged as its older brother the B3 organ and nowhere near as syrupy as the battalion of synthesizers that followed in its wake. As such, the keyboard sets a distinct mood from note one, which can be equally mellow and funky.

Pat Daugherty, who leads the trio New York Electric Piano, knows how to unleash all aspects of the Rhodes. Together with drummer Aaron Comess and bassist Tim Givens they can explore everything from badass funk (“Miles Glorioso”) to walking blues (“Blues for Curley”) and bebop (“Hot Springs”).

The problem with Citizen Zen is that once the trio establishes a mood, it seems either unsure where to go or afraid to really cut loose. Granted some of the riffs are pretty catchy, like the off-kilter “Blaze a Trail.” But only one of the 12 tracks lasts longer than five minutes, which means most of the space is spent repeating the melodies or playing slight variations until the next one comes along. In person this might get listeners on their feet, but at home, tracks start to blend together very quickly.

Originally Published