Famed poet, novelist and founding father of the Beatnik movement, Jack Kerouac, once stated, “The only truth is music.” There is no doubt that music has helped many find themselves. Pioneering Contemporary Jazz duo Kombo; Hammond B3 guru Ron Pedley and guitar whiz John Pondel can attest to this. “At 14, I heard Jimmy Smith’s The Sermon, reminisces Pedley. “It was the first time I ever heard Jazz. It opened my ears to improvisation and the simple fact that you don’t have to play what’s on the written page.” Pondel muses, “My world expanded one day when my older brother bought an FM radio! We listened to Jazz and found R&B and Rock music that we had never heard on AM radio. That day, I was convinced that I would be unhappy doing anything else with my life!”
This Is The Good One also features long-time collaborators, bassist Matt Bissonnette and drummer Gregg Bissonnette, who both played with Pedley in Maynard Ferguson’s band. The Hammond B-3 player recalls, “For me playing and recording with Maynard Ferguson was an incredible experience. He was always very supportive of us kids in his band and always encouraged us to strive to find our own voice.” The personnel on This Is The Good One also included percussionists David Rozenblatt and Luis Conte and The Fat City Horns. Although it has been over two decades since Kombo’s last two recordings, The Big Blast Blast (1999) and Cookin’ Out (2001), the dynamic duo doesn’t skip a beat on the new recording.
In the tradition of the great Hammond B3 players, Pedley cooks and gets down to the heart of organizing on the soul jazz number, “Pass A Good Time.” In addition to Jimmy Smith, Ron admits to being influenced by the late Joey DeFrancesco and Larry Goldings. One of the beauties of Kombo is their uncanny ability to craft intricate arrangements that disguise themselves behind beautiful melodies and danceable grooves. “It’s Daybreak,” inspired by a lyric from Barry Manilow’s song “Daybreak,” is a prime example. “Ron and I basically do the rhythm section arranging,” shares John. “Ron did a great job arranging the horns on several tunes. He also kills as a string arranger!” Ron who cites Vince Mendoza, John Beasley, and Rob Mathes, as among his compositional influences right now, recently did the rhythm, horn and string arrangements on labelmate Keiko Matsui's new album, Euphoria, along with John Beasley and Randy Waldman. Another highlight on This Is The Good One is the Brazilian Bossa groover “Hitomi’s Rose,” penned by John in tribute to his girlfriend Hitomi. Kombo slows down the pace with Pedley’s R&B inflected “There Everywhere,” which takes its cue from Bruno Mars and Silk Sonic’s “Leave The Door Open.” This Is The Good One also showcases “Rain Back On Top,” a feel-good romp with a Motown-esq feel and the album’s lone cover Curtis Mayfield’s hit “It’s Allright.” Kombo’s refreshing take is a delightfully swinging arrangement with a laid-back and buttery smooth horn section. This Is The Good One comes to a show-stopping finale with the jubilant “Let’s Do This.” When all is said and done, I think we can all agree, Kombo indeed has done it!