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The latest album from this Japanese jazz quartet is appropriately named “Jikan Ryoko,” or “Time Travel.” Many of the tracks are a trip three decades into the past, with heavy use of synthesizers - both the keyboard and wind-powered varieties - and mellow tones reminiscent of classic Dave Grusin, especially on the first half. Though they may not be visionaries of that caliber, T-Square is just as venerable (this is their 36th album) and to an extent they make up for a lack of originality with skill and variety.

The high point of “Time Travel” for me was “Beyond Lavender,” a swinging number punctuated by a rocking Masahiro Andoh on bass and the album’s wildest piano solos by Keizoh Kawano. Later on the album, “AiAiSa” is a welcome injection of up-tempo energy, including one of Andoh’s only chances to shine on the electric guitar.

Whether you’ll enjoy “Time Travel” depends on whether you can take yourself back to 1990s, to a simpler age of smooth synth sounds. It’s a fun trip.

T-Square “Jikan Ryoko”

Label: Village Music

Genre: Fusion jazz

By Ben Applegate
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