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Published: 2001/10/19
by Ray Hogan

OM Trio Live – OM Trio

self-released

A double live disc by any keyboard-led instrumental electric jazz group
other
than the Herbie Hancock during the Headhunters era is a pretty hard sell.
The California-by-way-of-New Jersey OM Trio succumbs to many of the pitfalls
one would expect in this format. The trio is immensely talented – keyboardist
Brian Felix can be equally funky and tasteful and the rhythm team of bassist
Pete Novembre and drummer Ilya Stemkovsky is rock solid – but don't know
when
to put on the brakes. "Live," which was recorded between December of last
year and this June, would be a much more enjoyable effort if the best cuts
on it were pared down to a single disc.

Five of the 21 tracks break the 10-minute mark (Clydedogg is nearly
20
minutes) and nine of them are short improvisational vignettes called
Tucson
Is Burning (I-IX). Following two tracks with an average length of 17
minutes
with one that lasts a whole 110 seconds just isn't a good idea.

The OM Trio is also torn between playing straight-ahead jazz and
instrumental
funk rock without committing itself enough to either. The lack of immersion
is frustrating. 24 ‘Miles’ to New Orleans, which opens the second
disc, has
Felix introducing clever riff after clever riff behind the funky work of his
rhythm section. So much territory is mined that at the song's close 15
minutes later, there's little left to grasp other than a stack of clever
riffs and an understanding that Felix can coax a world of sound from his
gadgets.

The band is most enjoyable when sticking in the six to eight minute range. That length allows them to show off their prowess – which is ultimately more inviting than their songs – without taking the music in too many distracting directions.

These guys, especially Novembre, also grew up rock which is evident in the
sledgehammer metal sounds of tunes of Tucson is Burning III and
Tucson is
Burning VI. Subway Sailor searches reggae territory to no great
revelation.
This band is capable of whipping huge grooves and all three musicians are
all
impressive soloists who work well together. It's too bad they haven't
figured
out a way to make memorable songs out of that equation.

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