Essentially an experimental vehicle allowing Jeff Babko to delve into some of the more subversive aspects of his multi-faceted musicality, this renegade trio offering is also a brilliant showcase for all-world drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, who is turned loose on these nine tracks with a vengeance, and also for the audaciously adventurous saxophonist Jeff Coffin [Bela Fleck and the Flecktones]. Together these three highly creative musical forces push the envelope on funk, fusion and organ trio jazz originals with some cathartic, scintillating results.
" This band represents a release for me," says gifted keyboardist who began classical training at age five and later studied jazz at the University of Miami. "It's so different for us. We don't get a chance to play this kind of music in each of our commercial situations but we really had fun doing it."
The sound of Vinnie's drums is very present in the mix throughout Mondo Trio, grounding the session with resounding authority. As Babko explains, "That comes from the engineer, Niko Bolas. He works on mostly rock records by people like Neil Young and Keith Richards. He would be considered a rock producer but he knows Vinnie real well and has worked with Vinnie for years. And so I knew he would get a great sound on his drums for this project. Initially we told him, 'We don't want this to be a safe recording. We don't want a pretty sounding jazz ride cymbal sound. Let's get it to be raw and let's capture the live energy of the session.' And I knew that given Niko's attitude and where he comes from sonically, he would be able to get that. And a lot of guys might want to have the drums play a more supportive role, but here it's really three equal voices."
Those three voices combine for one resounding burst of kinetic energy and inspired playing on the volatile jam-oriented Mondo Trio. -- Bill Milkowski