This 2006 entry from guitarist Mark Kleinhaut’s trio is exquisite. The Maine-based guitarist has a fluid sound that frequently reminds of Pat Metheny, and a fat tone that recalls Wes Montgomery’s. A 2003 LP with Bobby Watson sitting in ("Balance of Light") caught much attention, not to mention critical praise, and this follow up delivers on the promise of the last outing. This is a brilliant 13-tune collection of original compositions that impresses from the opening note. The contributions of bassist Jim Lyden and drummer Les Harris, Jr. cannot be overstated. This is not a pick-up rhythm team, but rather the working trio, which is to say they have been working together long enough to make their interplay flawless.
Kleinhaut has a warm tone and a facile wit, both of which make themselves apparent on the opening "Sister Cuba." The title piece is light and fluid, with dazzling string control and splendid rhythm support. On "Holiday" the guitarist’s delightful string dancing is more apparent. Kleinhaut can fly over the strings, but it never sounds like dazzling for its own sake; rather simply the expression of a man who just happens to have blurry fast fingers.
The Charlie Hunter-ish "Erika’s 8:30 Flute" adds electronics to the guitar, and "Logical Extension" is grounded and swinging. "Shells On Ancon Beach" has the sound of a standard while "Green T" offers impressive chord work. Bass and drums both take impressive turns here. "Passing Bird" has a Latin tinge and the closing "Rock and Sand" almost rocks out in a stop-start funky groove that ends too quickly.
Kleinhaut covers a wide variety of material here, all of which is superb. From sultry to sizzling, Mark Kleinhaut is one of the standout jazz guitarists recording today. If he comes to your town assume it will be one of the musical events of the year.