At the end of a long blog post about the making of his album Suit Up, drummer Matt Kane explains that the album was all recorded and mixed in about a week. “This is how jazz records happen best I think,” he continues. “Don’t labor over it. Just do it and move on. That’s what jazz, or improvised music or whatever you call it, is about anyway. The feeling I really wanted to capture with this album was the trio in a small club, swinging and representing our thing. I think we got it.” Listen to “Suit Up” and you’ll think so as well.
From as early as his first gig as a leader in Kansas City, he says he “put a band together to play the kind of tunes I wanted to play: hard swinging, aggressive and adventurous.” That was back before he moved to New York City in 1997. But hard swinging, aggressive and adventurous is still what his music is about here in 2013, at least as far as the music on Suit Up is concerned.
Working with guitarist Dave Stryker and Kyle Koehler on the organ, Kane has produced a hard driving set that is both tight and spontaneous. These are musicians who seem to know where they want to go, and more importantly they know how to get there. They work together like they can read each other’s minds. They had begun playing together a few years back at the Delta Grill. At first, although Kane describes their gigs as “pretty good,” he adds “I still had a little ways to go in figuring out how to play behind their solos. . . . they both hang on to their ideas for whole choruses, sometimes a couple [of] choruses and it’s easy to top out before they get to where they’re going.” If there were kinks in the beginning, they seem to be long gone.
The nine tracks on Suit Up are a nice mix of original compositions and a few standard jazz pieces. They open with a swinging version of Pat Metheny’s “John McKee and then move into the Newley/Bricusse show tune, “Who Can I Turn To.” Stryker originals include “Minor Mutiny” and “Shadowboxing.” The drum solo on “Shadowboxing” and the machine gun guitar work make this one of the gems on the disc. There are also two Kane orginals—“Mr. Rogers” with some rocking organ passages and the bluesy “As You Left.” There are two tunes, “Big Six” and “21st Century Ragg,” by Ahmad Alaadeen. Kane had worked with his Deans of Swing back in Kansas City before leaving for New York. The album closes with the Earth, Wind and Fire tune, “That’s the Way of the World.”
The Matt Kane Trio has a sweet sound. I haven’t heard a new guitar, organ, drum trio for a quite some time, listening to this album has got to whet the appetite for more.