This Time Around
Album Review "This Time Around" Opus 3 Jazz Trio Following on from their successful debut album "Journeys" The Opus 3 Jazz Trio have returned with a stunning second CD. A change to the line-up has introduced Nelson Cruz on bass and he has fitted seamlessly into the band to combine well with Jane and Seth Burkhart to present a well-balanced, innovative and polished sound that is sure to delight any new listeners as much as those who have been awaiting the release of this album. On "This Time Around" the band's growing confidence is reflected in their inclusion of a healthy proportion of original compositions, which span several styles, from classic slow ballads to driving Jazz/Funk, with some slow Swing and smooth Jazz in between. Jane Burkhart's outstanding piano and organ skills are perfectly framed by the "tight" pairing of Seth and Nelson on drums and bass. The pleasure these three musicians derive from playing together is obvious, with each member happy to add those little touches that enhance each other member's contribution. Highlights among the original compositions include "Mieka" - This slow Swing waltz, built round a repeating bass part, builds very nicely with some creative solo work on piano. "Hubble Bubble" is a real showpiece, switching effortlessly back and forth from Funk to Swing. This track is sure to be a "Live" show favorite. On "One for Rick" the retro sound of a classic Hammond organ gives an overall "powerful" feel to a great performance. The CD also contains a few cover versions of Jazz and Swing classics, two of which deserve a special mention. "But not for me" gives Nelson the lead and he seizes the opportunity to show how melodic a bass guitar can be. The interplay between bass and drums at the start of this track is a joy to listen to and the later introduction of piano produces such a full, rounded feel to this one, it give a fresh new slant to an old standard. There are few three-piece outfits who would dare to take on the Duke Ellington classic "Caravan". From the first strike of the complex drum pattern, the band provide a BIG version of a true Big Band number. All three members are obviously enjoying what they do on this track. Who can blame them? This is outstanding work! There is a "Bonus" track at the end of the CD (it appears after a minute of silence) "Figs and Honey" introduces Jane's singing talents, with her melody complimenting some very haunting chord work on piano. Also on electric guitar is Alan Evan's from Soulive, he also engineered the album. A real "Bonus" Overall, "This Time Around" is a well conceived, produced and performed compilation, which clearly demonstrates the abilities of these three accomplished musicians. If this is what they produce after such a short time together with this line-up, I await with anticipation to see what the future may bring. Highly recommended. Brian Strahan Jazz Critic Belfast Ireland.