Jeff Babko, Jeff Coffin and Vinnie Colaiuta: Mondo Trio
– Jeff Babko: Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3, synthesizers, noises
– Jeff Coffin: tenor, soprano, & alto saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, percussion
– Vinnie Colaiuta: drums, percussion, cymbals
1. Head Trauma
2. Vote 4 Morals
3. Five Before Happy Time
4. El Nino
7. X Marks The Spot
8. Young Dr. Jung
9. Love Theme From Mondo Trio
Jeff Babko is the keyboard player in the house band on Jimmy Kimmel Live (a popular late night TV program in the U.S.). The Mondo Trio is an experimental project of Babko’s with a simple goal: put the musicians together, roll the tape, and try to make some magic. This is usually easier said than done. We’ve all heard CD’s that have great musician line-ups, but the material is lame. Sometimes, the musicians don’t gel into a “band”; the lack of chemistry causes the music to sound forced or unfocused. Fortunately, some musicians can overcome this, and a “let’s go for it” spontaneity and spirit flows into the music and generates some sparks. The Mondo Trio – Babko, horn man Jeff Coffin, and monster drummer Vinnie Colaiuta – succeed on all fronts.
The tracks are essentially “one takes” – which given the level of intensity on some of the performances, is pretty amazing. Although there is some overdubbing here and there, they are subtle touches. The tunes are a mix of fusion style jams and a few funk-lite pieces. The band really stretches out on the fusion: they hit the ground running and don’t let up – as it should be. The funk-lite pieces – though played well – tend to drag a bit, and are the only weakness that this CD has.
This is my first time hearing both Babko and Coffin. While he plays an array of keyboards, Babko really heats up when he’s playing the B3 organ. Jeff Coffin seems to be able to play in any style you throw at him. While this is Babko’s session, this recording is really a Vinnie Colaiuta drumming clinic. He’s killin’ it throughout the entire CD. You can imagine the sessions going something like: “Jeff, here’s the melody, I’ll double-up with you, you take the first solo, I’ll take the second, and then to the end. Vinnie…you just PLAY.”
Although this CD documents their first time as a group, the two Jeff’s and Vinnie sound as though they’ve been together for years. I wish all “experiments” sounded this good.