Multiculti jazz trio Burning Gums cranks out plenty of dazzling variety on their self-titled debut album. New York-based guitarist Ron Jackson, Hungarian bassist Norbert Marius, and Japanese drummer Matsuura Hiroyuki are a blast of fresh air. Check out their dreamy, spaced-out reinvention of the Miles Davis classic “So What” for an example of the wavelength these guys are all dialed into.
For an even better example, go straight to their seriously funky take on Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe.” I probably could’ve done without the staticy radio transmission sounds that are overlaid on top of the jam, but the trio’s playing is strong enough to ignore it. Jackson really goes to town, with a quicksilver solo that’s pushed along steadily by Hiroyuki’s in-the-pocket beat. Both of these covers were skillfully arranged by Marius, who also produced the album.
The other nine tracks are originals, split between Jackson and Marius. “Samba de Queijo” opens the record at fairly breakneck speed, with super-melodic lines by Jackson. Hiroyuki’s drumming simply amazes throughout Burning Gums. His role on “Samba” is primarily timekeeping but he throws in some terrific fills. Jackson’s “Going Bush” brings in a calypso vibe, with some seriously slippery, rubbery bass work by Marius. The same can be said of Marius’ lines on his own “Madras Parallel,” which shows off the obvious like-mindedness of he and Hiroyuki—their interplay is exciting and inventive.
Jackson’s meditative “Park Slope” is a slow-build finale to the album, steady and less kinetic than most of the other eight cuts. It’s no less melodic, however, and a strong capper to the highly recommended Burning Gums. For more information about the band, visit their official website.