The Kombu Combo Concept:
Kombu Combo’s music is adventurous and rhythmic, catchy yet unpredictable. From original compositions, to reinvented standards, Kombu Combo plays music that is both creative jazz and accessible to all music-lovers.
“A lot of jazz is presented more for musicians and jazz-lovers”, says John DiGiovanni, Kombu’s creator and drummer. “We wanted a band that includes and wider audience in the experience. Our fans come to us from rock, pop, funk, bebop, classical music, as well as traditional jazz”.
John hand-picked Kombu’s musicians for their different, but complementary backgrounds and styles. All are strong, talented players. So it’s inevitable that when one of them introduces a new tune to the combo, it quickly evolves into something completely unique. It’s not unusual to hear elements of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Frank Zappa, Horace Silver or Robert Palmer emerging and fading as the themes develop.
Kombu Combo infuses World Music influences throughout: the melodies, rhythms and unique textures recall New Orleans, Brazilian, Latin, African and Indian influences. The band describers the musical result as structured but free – a kind of disciplined entropy.
Influences: Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, Tito Puente, John Scofield, Weather Report, John Coltrane, Weather Report, John Coltrane
Bob Colligan: Bassist Bob Colligan is described by John as “one of the finest bass players in the area, an incredible player”. He started on guitar, switched to electric bass, earned a Masters degree in classical instrument performance from Temple University, and has since stayed very busy as both a player and an educator.
John DiGiovanni: is the band’s creator, and began on the drums when he was seven, became interested in fusion a decade later, entering the jazz door by listening to Chick Corea, Tony Williams Lifetime and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. He has since carved out an impressive and eclectic career, working with many blues, r&b and rock bands, accompanying creative singer/songwriters, and bringing all of his diverse experiences to his infectious jazz playing. John is also owner and operator of Marsh Road Studios, where Kombu’s recordings take place.
Norm Dorrell: is the band’s mallet player and performs on vibes, marimbas and percussion. He is perhaps best known for his work with the group F.O.I. (Flying on Instruments), a quartet that he co-leads with saxophonist Kevin Brace. Norm brings original compositions and new arrangements to the band, constantly expanding and refreshing the repertoire.
Sean Holz: Guitarist Sean Holz can play a wide variety of styles from Hendrix and Zappa to Miles Davis. By developing his own original and flexible tone, Sean’s playing is instantly recognizable and a major asset to Kombu, both as a composer, soloist and for his work in the band’s ensembles. A graduate of the University of the Arts with a degree in Jazz Studies, Sean teaches at Pro Musica Studio, as does John DiGiovanni.
Frank McKitty: Saxophonist Frank McKitty has worked in many musical settings during the past 25 years including with Eddie Daniels, Bobby Shew, Loren Schoenberg, Latin bands, society orchestras and his own quartet. He plays tenor, alto, baritone, soprano, flute and even oboe very well, which makes him a particularly valuable part of Kombu.
John DiGiovanni - Drums & Percussion
Frank McKitty - Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Bob Colligan - Bass
Norm Dorrell - Vibes
Sean Holz - Guitar
"Descent" released for worldwide digital distribution through CD Baby
Streaming tracks at www.myspace.com/KombuCombo
Kombu Combo Jazz & World Music
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As many here know, I don't often review demos, but after hearing these folks at our online site (Jaz...As many here know, I don't often review demos, but after hearing these folks at our online site (Jazz Network Worldwide), I asked for whatever they had in need of review. What they sent was a 4-song demo that clearly shows the varied styles of their high-energy rhythm-based jazz. John DiGiovanni (hyped-up drums) is the leader, with bouncin' bass from Bob Colligan, vibrant vibraphone from Norm Dorrell, great guitars by Sean Holz and solid sax from Frank McKitty. As you'll see if you visit their webpages, these 4 tracks are the precursor to a CD release, and I can hardly wait to get that.The group is absolutely tight, & I'm looking forward to hearing more from them soon. I give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an EQ (energy quotient) rating of 4.95
...Dick Metcalk, aka Dr Jazz, Jazz Music Critic, Jazz Network Worldwide
Albums of Note from the Millennium Music Conference
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Kombu Combo is a five-piece assemblage of accomplished jazz players, who collectively, practice an e...Kombu Combo is a five-piece assemblage of accomplished jazz players, who collectively, practice an engaging fusion of Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Indian, and World music. With its self-titled EP, Kombu Combo presents two original compositions as well as its interpretations of two classic jazz numbers - John Coltrane's "Equinox" and Miles Davis' "Milestones".
The first original, “Descent”, almost sounds like The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, in the Bahamas, both on prescription sedatives: complex-yet-buttery guitar phrasings (John McLaughlin with his guard down), hazy-but-explorative bass runs (Jaco Pastorius on a hammock), and glowing augments of vibraphone, all lounging overtop of loose, brushed percussion.
If “Descent” is a nice glass of wine (or three) after a long day in the heat, then the second original, “Brazilian Waxx”, is the next morning’s crisp wake-up. No hangover here though — the tones are sunny, the pace is brisk and the accuracy is spot-on. For newcomers and aficionados alike, Kombu Combo’s EP has multiple moods to offer, all of them pleasant.
Scott Yanow Review
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The Kombu Combo is a very stimulating and creative jazz group that, as with the best bands, falls in...The Kombu Combo is a very stimulating and creative jazz group that, as with the best bands, falls into its own special category. Just when one thinks that this is a fusion group, they will launch into a straight ahead blues, an avant-garde exploration, or ideas inspired by Cuba, India or Brazil. Mood and groove changes within a single song keep listeners guessing, but the end results are logical and exciting. If the band has to be classified, call it “creative modern jazz.”
Kombu Combo consists of founder-drummer John DiGiovanni, Frank McKitty on tenor, alto, baritone and soprano saxophones, vibraphonist Norm Dorrell, guitarist Sean Holz, and electric bassist Bob Colligan, all of whom are well featured and have the opportunity to add their musical personalities into the group sound. Other than “Autumn Leaves” and “Filthy McNasty,” all of the music on Descent is originals from the musicians.
Kombu Combo begins their latest release with “Section 4,” a particularly fascinating performance that is an excellent showcase for the band's originality and musicianship along with its distinctive group sound. The scalar piece has tricky time changes, raging tenor, tempo changes within each chorus, and inventive solos from the vibes, guitar and bass solos that manage to sound both heated and relaxed. Although initially challenging for the musicians, “Section 4” is a delight for the listener.
While “Section 4” is over 11 minutes long, the good-humored “Prince Jovana's Last Dance” is much more concise yet also sounds very complete, the type of catchy piece that would be a perfect fit for jazz radio. The episodic “Dark Continent” evolves from an intense piece with hyper playing by bassist Colligan and a melodic lead by McKitty on soprano to a jam over a one-chord vamp and a slow strut before it returns to its original mood. It is a journey that listeners will be glad the took, revealing further surprises with each listen. “Descent” features bluesy guitar, fluent soprano playing, and short statements from guitar and vibes.
“Sam Meets James,” despite some passionate stretches, retains a ballad feel, even when McKitty is playing furious double time lines over the walking bass. For a change of pace, Horace Silver's “Filthy McNasty” is revived, giving the band a chance to play a blues and McKitty an opportunity to stretch out on baritone. “Brazilian Waxx,” a rapid jazz waltz, has a joyful melody played by soprano and guitar plus a Joe Henderson-inspired tenor solo that for a time becomes a duet with drummer DiGiovanni. The memorable program concludes with an unpredictable version of “Autumn Leaves.”
Throughout Descent, Kombu Combo features colorful solos, impressive musicianship, a distinctive group sound in the ensembles, and the consistent willingness to stretch itself. Few other bands can handle tempo, time and mood changes with such ease. The Kombu Combo is a group well worth discovering and enjoying, whether live or on Descent.
Dick Metcalf Reviews Kombu's Descent CD
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I reviewed a (short 4-song) CD from these folks back in issue # 99... as regular readers here know...I reviewed a (short 4-song) CD from these folks back in issue
# 99... as regular
readers here know, I don't often review demos, & when I do, it's because the
groups have told me they will have a CD out soon. Kombu got a HIGHLY
...RECOMMENDED on that CD, but this new recording merits much higher acclaim... to
get a taste of just how great they are together, check out this video of their
tune "Sam Meets James"...
total balance and strong power projection. The tune that just JAMMED (for
me, anyway), though, was the 11:45 "Dark
Continent"... tight rhythm, & Norm Dorrell's (he's the composer) vibes just
ROCK, folks! If you love funkiness, you'll certainly dig "Brazilian
Waxx", as did I... but for my ears, the tune that captured "favorite track"
was their version of a Horace Silver piece called "Filthy
McNasty"! I'm really liking what I hear from this band, & believe that
if you love jazz that has the "main ingredient" (that's FUN, for you who didn't
know), you'll dig it, too. I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an
"EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97. Get more information at
Typical set list includes 10-12 original numbers, 2-3 covers for a 2 hour performance. Each set is about an hour. More details can be provided
PDF RiderKombu Combo Set Design
There are no upcoming dates at this time.