Kombo – Cookin’ Out
(GRP – 2001)
by Ray Redmond
Kombo’s debut album “The Big Blast” recalled the solid R&B of the past while adding a more contemporary jazz feel. With “Cookin’ Out'” Ron Pedley and Jon Pondel are back with a mixture of originals and covers that all share that same smooth, old-school jazz sound. They come out of the gate with “Tip of the Hat”, a very uptempo Lorber-esque piece which features Ron’s signature B3 and Jon’s distinctive jazz-tinged guitar. “Tight” rolls along, again featuring the duo’s lively interplay. Sharon Hendrix shows her vocal talents on the sensual “Hush” as well as their sporty cover of the classic Nyro track “Stoned Soul Picnic”.
This is a very good example of a contemporary group taking a classic song and infusing it with a liveliness that is just as dynamic as the original, yet sufficiently different to be enjoyable on it’s own merits. The same can be said of the very creative “Use Me/Green Eyed Lady” combination they put together (This was a candidate for this month’s Hot Single). The choice to cover WAR’s classic “Low Rider” was perhaps a little less wise, coming off as flat and lacking in luster compared to the original. There are only three cover tunes on the entire CD, so I guess two out of three isn’t bad.
“Cookin’ Out” and “Gettin’ it Done”, both originals are well crafted and smooth. A lot of the enjoyment of this CD comes from the interplay between Pedley and Pondel, who are old friends. Though not as outright funky as some of the Jazzhole stuff that Pondel was involved with a few years ago, there is an element of old school funk throughout this release. As Pondel says, their music is “in the vein of acid jazz and R&B but can also fit into the contemporary jazz thing.” Saxman Everett Harp helps this cause making an appearance on the percolating original “Simmer Down”. Also…Kudos to Luis Conte who held the percussion down throughout the album.