|Cross Border Trios debut album New Directions has wonderful tenor saxophone playing, a rhythm section that is sounding full, fresh, and exciting. This North Mexican and South Californian border-hopping trio plays great music with an improvisational spirit and in a free form jazz style. The album contains ten tracks of intriguing music that grooves from the melodic lyricism of Jason Robinsons smooth flowing mellow sounding tenor saxophone to the hard driving, constantly swinging rhythm section of Rob Thorsen on acoustic bass and Paquito Villa on drum set and cymbals. Well worth a listen and never a dull moment, this record is enjoyable from start to finish.
Hell in Hat Yai, the name of the first track, composed by Jason Robinson draws you into the musical journey with a beautiful tone, a calling, beckoning horn of plenty, soothing your soul with a smooth warm tone. A driving bass line lays down the rhythm and the drummer swings around the rhythm with joyous abandon. A mix of musical genres develops, from funky bass lines to Latin percussive rhythms with jazz based drumming acrobatics and free jazz excursions.
The recording features some incredible playing by all members of the trio. Mr. Robinson displays his tenor saxophone skills on every track, some tracks more than others, with saxophone riffs fired off in every direction. No More Net, Think of Juan and Red Light are some examples of excellent free-bop saxophone playing.
Excellent drumming prevails throughout the recording, never overpowering, always in the pocket and showing fine form with exceptional dynamics and plenty of taste. Paquito Villa does a superb job at inspiring his band mates, always complementing where they are headed in the musical journey, sometimes leading with intricate rhythms, always creating a wonderful soundscape.
New Directions is a well produced, quality recording, from the packaging, CD cover, artwork and liner notes to the sound and songs. The professional image is important; presentation of the product goes a long way in first impressions. Of course, the product, the music, is the main focus and if the music is lacking, packaging isnt going to help. Cross Border Trio has it all, they are the complete package, check out their new album New Directions.
report by Paul J. Youngman KJA Jazz Advocate April 2007