Scottish guitarist, MacKenzie has been playing in around Scotland since the late eighties, apart from a brief residence in New York where he studied with the late John Abercrombie, and has led a number of successful bands playing a diverse array of music from the standards with fellow Scot, Steve Hamilton and recordings in New York with groups featuring saxphonists Donny McCaslin and Loren Stillman. It is, however, with this trio that he has found the perfect setting for his music.

If a tried and tested format, the guitar trio in recent years has thrown up a whole host of groups utilising this line up in very different ways. Whether this makes it easier or more difficult to find ones own voice among the crowd is a matter for conjecture, and something on this outing that MacKenzie does not over concern himself with. Instead he has assembled two musicians with an equally broad and varied CVs along with some original material and just got on with making music. In doing so he has released an album that is totally contemporary and yet with respect to the tradition that has gone before, as heard on his fine arrangement of Django reinhardt's 'Nuages'.

The opening track, 'The Mouse Commute' gets the album off to a fine start, but it it the title track that follows that really grabs the attention. The gentle melody is allowed to unfold in a relaxed and unhurried manner with MacKenzie's guitar lines mellow yet clearly and cleanly articulated, and the solo solidly constructed. The guitarist again demonstrates his expertise at writing ballads in the beautiful 'The Mighty Flo' dedicated to his young daughter, another composition in which the trio take their time letting the music flow at its own pace.


Kevin MacKenzie (guitar); Mario Caribé (bass); Alyn Cosker (drums)

Recorded at Solas Sound, n.d.


This unhurried approach is felt throughout the set at what ever the tempo, with the swinging 'Snood Dude' and 'Blues Shoes' allowing the trio to let their hair down a little... But not too much as this air of total control and finesse is maintained during the MacKenzie's solos even as the bass and drums look to push a little harder, and from the opening bass notes of 'Caribé's Cachaça Capers' the hint of mischief is never far away.

This is an absorbing set, that for this listener, is a winner not just for the ballads, but for quality of writing across the album as entirety. Not a duff track on a CD that is most highly recommended.

Reviewed by Nick Lea



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