Mike Janzen Trio | Mombacho

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Jazz: Piano Jazz Jazz: Jazz-Funk Moods: Type: Improvisational
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by Mike Janzen Trio

The MIke Janzen Trio is joined by special guests (Phil Dwyer, Kevin Breit) to create an infectious album of funky jazz originals, lush textures and innovative pop covers.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Around the Block
4:20 $0.99
2. Mombacho
6:38 $0.99
3. Beauty
7:00 $0.99
4. Mrs. Robinson
6:55 $0.99
5. Masaya
5:31 $0.99
6. Swankometer
5:02 $0.99
7. Almost Tango
8:01 $0.99
8. Where It Goes
7:02 $0.99
9. Trail Runner
7:33 $0.99
10. God Put a Smile Upon My Face
8:14 $0.99
11. All the Diamonds
4:42 $0.99
12. Red Rocket
6:05 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
*Mombacho* is Mike’s sophomore jazz album. Following closely on the heels of his award-winning debut “Beginnings”, *Mombacho* suffers from none of the all-to-common second album gremlins. Mike writes and leads his trio (occasionally augmented by saxophonist Phil Dwyer, guitarist Kevin Breit and strings) with clarity and authority. His native humor, intelligence and spirituality are present in abundance on nine original compositions. Jazz readings of Mrs. Robinson (Simon and Garfunkel), All The Diamonds (Bruce Cockburn) and God Put A Smile On My Face (Berryman, Buckland, Champion and Marten) round out the contents. With the original working title “Road Trip”, *Mombacho* takes us on a jazz journey through urban-esk funk, beautiful smooth fusion, sensual tango and neo-standard jazz. From start to end this is an album steeped in melody, rich in texture, and full of energetic grooves. Enjoy!



to write a review

Sean Rixon

Volcanic Janzen
For the title of his sophomore album, Toronto jazz craftsman Mike Janzen chose the name of one Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes. This choice of name may reflect, in part, the recurring Latin flavorings and rhythms that occasionally make appearances throughout the album. But it’s easier to picture “mombacho” as a fitting metaphor for the eruption and outpouring of restless versatility and eclecticism that is characteristic of Janzen and the members of his trio (drummer Ben Riley and bassist George Koller on half of the tracks, with Davide DiRenzo or Larnell Lewis substituting for Riley on the other half).

In fact, Mombacho is so musically varied – with bits of funk, Latin jazz, free jazz, bebop, fusion and perhaps many others(!) thrown in – that sudden stylistic shifts occur not just from song to song, but even within songs. For example, the kick-off track, “Around the Block”, includes moments of Latin jazz rhythms and hammond-organ doodling sandwiched in between passages showcasing the comfortable New Orleans piano-funk that Janzen can do in his sleep. Also, the follow-up track - which is the album’s title song – finds the trio giddily skipping among Bitches Brew-like keyboard doodling, a jaunty hammond motif, and frantic start-and-stop patterns, before suddenly (and puzzlingly) entering the realm of a mysterious, film-noirish mood piece. If these weren’t enough to catch listeners off-guard, a number of other tracks including “Beauty”, “Trail Runner”, and “God Put a Smile On My Face” (an interesting interpretation of the Coldplay hit) start off as calm and inviting compositions, before slowly but surely exploding into excursions of free-jazz frenzy. This is not to say that Mombacho is bereft of music that is more immediately accessible. Despite their stylistic diversity , the three middle tracks – the soulful “Swankometer”, the obviously Latin “Almost Tango”, and the soft, contemplative “Where it Goes” all manage to maintain a steady and focused mood.

Nevertheless, how listeners respond to and receive Mombacho as a whole depend in a large measure on the kinds of listeners they happen to be. Jazz aficionados, who, to be fair, tend to be the ones who listen more carefully to the intricacies of the music rather than use it mainly as a soundtrack for candlelight dinners and social events, may indeed marvel at the technical alplomb with which Janzen and co. move from one style, mood and time signature to another. On the other hand, more casual jazz fans may find Mombacho to be, at best, an acquired taste. Still, no one who hears Mombacho could possibly deny that it not only firmly establishes Janzen as a bona fide jazz artist, but also reveals him as one who can hold his own with the best of them.