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Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergö Borlai: Arc Trio (Blue Canoe)

Review of collaboration between Tribal Tech/Zawinul Legacy Band keyboardist, Yellowjackets/Jeff Lorber bassist, and Hungarian drummer

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Cover of Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergö Borlai album Arc Trio
Cover of Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergö Borlai album Arc Trio

It’s no accident that Joe Zawinul’s sound is writ large throughout portions of Arc Trio: Keyboardist Scott Kinsey, best known for his work with fusion supergroups Tribal Tech and Human Element, was a protégé of the late Weather Report co-founder, and is musical director of the Zawinul Legacy Band. As such, he makes a natural partner for heavyweight bass guitarist, composer and producer Jimmy Haslip, formerly of the Yellowjackets and lately touring and recording with Jeff Lorber. Their relatively unsung partner is Hungarian drummer Gergö Borlai.

The roiling currents of African-tinged drums and percussion, and squiggly synthesizer lines of Kinsey-penned opener “Owosso” hint at Black Market-era Weather Report. The same might be said about Haslip’s “West Orange,” next up, which kicks off with slide-in synths, has the bassist delivering Jaco-like bass lines, and features impressive solo work by Steve Tavaglione on soprano sax.

Arc Trio wears its influences well, but it mostly feels like newfangled fusion. That’s a compliment. “Viera,” named for Haslip’s late Puerto Rican-born mother and driven by guest drummer Vinnie Colaiuta’s infectious propulsion, is built on Afro-Cuban rhythms, quick-shifting chordal patterns, and an ongoing dialogue among all the musicians, including Tavaglione.

“I’m Hip,” co-written by Haslip and Kinsey, is primarily an extended, laidback vamp with plenty of room for improvisations by the keyboardist, on synth, electric piano, and organ, and Tavaglione on flute. And their closing “Goan Wanderer,” with guest drummer Gary Novak, is a buzzing blend of fusion and world-music textures, shot through with distant-sounding wordless vocals. Like many of the other tracks here, it’s a hypnotic concoction.


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Originally Published