The acronym OKB stands for the initials of the three members of the jazz combo who came together in Astoria, Queens on one Sunday afternoon in June 2010. Their meeting place had been the popular club Blackbird’s. Comprised of pianist Oscar Perez, bassist Kuriko Tsugawa, and drummer Brian Woodruff, the trio boasts that they put the “ing” back into “swing,” hence the title of their new collaboration, The Ing….
Focusing on the groove, they express themselves freely through their instruments. Though the trio is dedicated to making arrangements that swing, they also dabble in vaunting bebop and bluesy serenades. The threesome browses through several American Songbook standards, Latin swing melodies, and a number of their own improvised creations on the recording. Spawned from their jam session at Blackbird’s in 2010, OKB creates impromptu phrases that are easy to like.
The delicate pirouettes made by Perez’s playing on the twinkling ivories give “El Padrino” an airy quality, while Woodruff’s curt drumming frames the tune in sharp edges. Strolling along, the cool jazz swagger of the piano keys along “Please Send Me Someone to Love” has a pleading voice in a style reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan. “I Remember You” perks up the recording with bopping bass beats and keys that sparkle in the dimly lit ambience of the track. Mindful of the suave language inherent in bossa nova motifs, the percussive shakers chisel lounging swells along “Pirouette en Dedans.” Adding to the serene vibrations, the piano keys roam freely into improvised patterns.
The detailed scrolls made by the piano keys infuse “Safe Passage” with zigzagging lines that form unusual shapes, though always moving in harmony with the bass and drums. Projecting a melancholy mood, the fluctuations made by the bass notes along “March 3rd” exude an introspective voice while the keys seethe with intensity. Conversely, the samba rhythm of “Tristeza” permeates a storybook bliss. The swinging rhythm takes the listener on a jaunt that breeds mirth and optimism from start to finish.
OKB considers their collective mindset, heartfelt kinship, and sense of community as the impetus for their artistry and deep connection. The trio manages to play off one another, creating impromptu phrases while keeping in harmony with one another. Swing translates to playing in harmony, and OKB does so, even as the three musicians venture off into autonomous paths.
Oscar Perez – piano, Kurifo Tsugawa – bass, and Brian Woodruff – drums