Toru Dodo Trio
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Toru Dodo Trio

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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"The Inside Connection(March 2007)"

Toru Dodo's third release, appropriately titled 3, is a fine example of what a gifted pianist with phenomenal composition skills can produce. The CD, which is in trio format, includes Toru Dodo on piano, Joseph Lepore on bass and Rodney Green on drums.

The opening track, "R or B," shows the skills that Dodo possesses. His ability to move up and down the keys with a mix of chops, groove and creativity is clear to the listener in the first 30 seconds of the recording. His bantams hold the project together in extreme creative fashion with stellar performances on "Boliva" and "Inside Bubbles." Dodo also pays homage to the people of New York with "NYUCS," which stands for New York Underground Car Service. Dodo, who is a New York City resident, gives it up for the number one subway line in a big way. The track has samples from the train's conductor, and its placement inside of Dodo's funky grooves plays to be one of the hippest tunes I have heard in some time. The CD moves along, holding the listener's interest throughout with great selections such as "Giacomo Swing," "My Romance" and "T Dog's Theme."

This is a solid, well-composed release by one of the most exciting new talents in jazz. For more information on Toru Dodo and upcoming performances go to

- James Rosen

"JazzChicago(January 2007)"

In a musical landscape filled with pianists who seem to have been cut with the same cookie cutter, it is a true pleasure to find someone who is forging their own original style. Toru Dodo may not be the next Thelonius Monk (yet), but he is developing his own unique and individual approach to the piano - one that is sure to enchant the discerning listener. His 3rd release - "DoDo 3" continues the artist's journey forward - and is a bewitching romp filled with luscious playing and a sly sense of humor.

Dodo is again presented in a piano trio setting, and his fellow players - Joseph Lepore on bass and Rodney Green on drums - seem well suited to assist the pianist in achieving his eccentric, but highly listenable works. The rollicking "R or B" opens with a bang - its' shifting rhythms creating a compelling musical landscape. Cedar Walton's "Bolivia" follows and pays tribute to Dodo's influences in a superb version of this classic tune. Another Dodo original - The humorously-titled "Boneless and Skinless" follows and again shows the pianist's unique compositional style - full of starts and stops and unusual changes. One is tempted to believe the artist's Oriental heritage has something to do with his off-center interval and chord choices.

Showing he can do it slow and soft as well, "Inside Bubbles" is a beautiful and haunting Debussy-inspired ballad, which in turn leads into the churning, up-tempo "NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service). "A Spiral Escalator" contains rising and falling motifs - giving the musical impression of riding such an imaginery contraption. Meanwhile, "Arabesque" sounds like what Chopin, Schumann or Debussy would sound like if they had worked within a jazz setting. In another nod to the great classical composers - "Giacomo Swing" is named after the Italian Opera composer Puccini and utilizes Lepore's bowed bass to nice effect. Another up-tempo number that features Dodo's unique innovative method on the keyboards, "Brush Pitch" also gives Green a fine solo spot on the drums.

The great standard "My Romance" is given loving treatment by the pianist, and he also covers a famous (in Japan) television animation theme song ("Sazae's Theme") - whose strong melody reminds us here in the West that we have much we could gain by opening up more to different cultures - like those of the Far East. Finally, the fun "T Dog's Theme" powerfully ends the album - again highlighting Lepore and Green's muscular playing beneath Dodo's "Monk-like" comping style and strangely delightful interval and rhythm choices.

Artful, and often playful in his approach, Dodo is always fascinating to listen to, and I would highly recommend this album to those who love piano music, but are tired of run-of-the-mill piano outings. - Brad Walseth

"All About Jazz(June 2006)"

Toru Dodo 's name may not be at the top of people s lists of riveting jazz pianists yet but with recordings like Dodo3, such recognition could come soon enough. The album is full of catchy compositions that showcase Dodo's individual, unique and modern voice; his acrobatic trio mates- Joseph Lepore on bass and Rodney Green on drums - fly around complicated structures and rhythms with energy and precision.

The standout composition " NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service)", for example, could be mistaken in a blindfold test for the Bad Plus at their more adventurous, given its rhythmic, harmonic and structural boldness. But the piece is not derivative in any way; it bears Dodo s original signature throughout its unyielding gallop forward. (Its sample of a #1 subway line conductor announcing stops is an added pleasure for Manhatto- philes.)

The album opener " R or B " is another compelling composition, with varying propulsive rhythms and tempos, changing colors of minor and major 7 chords and two-handed, staccato passages. Arabesque shows a classical influence with its steadily flowing current of arpeggios, while on the solo piano " My Romance", Dodo demonstrates he can play a ballad the old-fashioned way spare and tasteful with choice sprinkles of melody.

Other highlights which are notable for combining rhythmic playfulness and catchiness are " Brush Pitch" and "Boneless & Skinless", while the penultimate track, " For Mr. M (Sazae's Theme)", is especially not-to-be-missed. Like a mini Keith Jarrett solo movement, it evolves in three-plus minutes from a gentle and wistful song to a rolling blues and gospel-soaked vamp. - Brian P. Lonergan

" 2007)"

New York-based pianist and composer Toru Dodo who hails from Tokyo, Japan, makes an elegant musical statement with Dodo 3, his third CD on the Jazz City Records label.
The album captures a warm session of light rhythms and colorful harmonies provided by a fine trio that includes bassist Joseph Lepore and Rodney Green on the sticks and brushes.

Of the twelve tracks on the album, Dodo contributes nine originals beginning with rhythm-rich up tempo movements of “R or B.� There’s a lot of good stuff here to savor like the soft and lovely “Inside Bubbles,� the exceptional fast-paced and quite lively tribute to New York’s underground car service, “NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service) � and the classical sounds of “Arabesque� featuring Dodo and the bassist trading shots on one beautiful piece of music.

There are three standards not to be missed. Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia� jumps out at you with sharp crisp chords from the pianist in one exciting number. Dodo showcases his appreciable talents playing solo on “Sazae’s Theme,� written by Japanese composer, Kyohei Tsutsumi. The stand out tune for this listener has to be the enchanting rendition of Richard Rogers’ classic “My Romance.�

Dodo 3 is an album of warm rhythm-based combination of mellow light jazz with sparks of brilliance from a master pianist and wonderful trio. A welcome addition to my collection of jazz music. - Ed Blanco

"Concert Review"

Toru Dodo Trio at The Blue Note Jazz Club’s Jazz Brunch

Concert Review by: Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson

Venue: The Blue Note Jazz Club (New York City)

March 18, 2007 - Jazz does have a sense of humor. Pianist Horace Silver has proven that throughout his career with titles like “Doodlin’”, “Filthy McNasty”, “Finger Poppin’”, “The Sophisticated Hippie”, “Funky Bunky”, and “Rockin’ with Rachmaninoff”. Fellow pianist Toru Dodo may not have such colorfully named tunes on his new release Dodo 3 (Jazzcity Spirit Productions, Inc.), but his charming wit brought about laughter from the crowd at Sunday’s Jazz Brunch at The Blue Note Jazz Club.

Accompanied by Yasushi Nakamura on bass (Joseph Lepore is the bassist on the release) and Rodney Green on drums, the first of the trio’s two sets was just delightful. It consisted of mostly songs from Dodo 3, his first U.S. release and his third overall. The “Alice in Wonderland” theme was the afternoon’s light fare opener. Dodo’s delicate touch of the keys conveyed the magical journey one can have in playing this music. Nakamura’s woody solo and the light taps on snares and faint metallic ring on cymbal at the end by Green gave the piece glow.

Dodo then generously praised his bandmates; Nakamura for his youth and promising career and Green, donning a feather in his cap, for his prowess and consistency behind the kit (why isn’t this man signed to a label?)

Inspired by the New York subway system, “NYUCS (New York Underground Car Service)” began with sampled sounds from the tracks that signaled a quick entry by the trio. The tune ran and stopped, ran and stopped, just like – you guessed it. It was hectic play on the bandstand. Nakamura slid his fingers up and down the fret for a hustle n’ bustle effect. As he soloed, a sampled bit ran underneath that had him fighting to be heard – just like on the subway! Instead of it becoming a corny parody of the subways, the trio weaved tightly into the subway din. Well done!

“Boneless and Skinless” is such a cute ditty that is much more complicated than the trio would ever have let on that afternoon. Playing against swiftly shifting accents and time signatures were effortlessly cast off. It compared to Vince Guaraldi’s compositions written for The Peanuts television specials. The audience seemed to enjoy hearing the story behind “Boneless and Skinless” as much as the performance itself. Dodo’s delivery from the stage between tunes should make him consider comedy as a side gig.

For those of you who’ve wondered why no one has yet to invent a spiral escalator, you need not wonder anymore. Dodo has – theoretically. “A Spiral Escalator” crept up in a minor key with a drowsy walking bass, like a lonely specter ascending to the widow’s walk, gazing into the double screen of the setting sun and rising moon. “Giacomo Swing”, named for the Italian composer, was taken away by Nakamura’s bowed solos throughout as Dodo and Green worked around him with elegant, polished statements and fills.

“Debussy wrote it. Schumann wrote it. Why can’t Toru Dodo write Arabesque?” Why not, indeed? Dodo asks that question in Dodo 3 on the tune “Arabesque”. This piece really exemplified the very fluid nature of Dodo’s technique. Like rainwater, the notes just dripped off of his fingers. One of Dodo’s favorite compositions is “Bolivia” by pianist Cedar Walton. This standard plays itself and can quickly become trite. The trio injected the piece with brightness and agile melodic lines. The dessert of the Brunch was “My Romance”. It was beautiful. It was as if Dodo smoothed it out with his fingers across the keys. With this ballad, he demonstrated that he is comfortable in all zones. “T. Dog’s Theme” closed the set with brilliant flash and hard play.

For those of you who missed this most enjoyable performance with pianist Toru Dodo can catch him hosting the Sunday Jam Session at Cleopatra's Needle in New York City.


copyright@2007 Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson
- (April 2007)


2002-"DODO"(Jazz City Spirit)
2004-"116 West 238 St."(Jazz City Spirit)
2006-"DODO 3"(Jazz City Spirit)
2007-"DODO 3"-USA release
T Dog's Theme& Arabesque are heard on myspace.
DODO 3 are radio-airplayed in Japan and USA and Romania.

2009-"Do You Like Cappuccino?"(Do &Do)



"One of the most exciting new talents in jazz."
Inside Connection Magazine March 2007

TORU DODO , born in Tokyo , started playing classical piano at age 4. After he entered the Meiji University in Tokyo , he discovered Jazz music.
(His major was Economics.) He started gigging in Tokyo area.
After he graduated , he went to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music, '95 Summer .

After he graduated as a summa cum laude, He moved to NY in 1998.
Since then he has kept his musical career going forward,
He often tours around USA, Japan, Canada, West
Africa, East Africa, South America as a leader and as a sideman.

He released 3 of his leader album "DODO"('02) "116 West 238 St."('04) (featuring Reuben Rogers on bass and John Lamkin on drums) and
" DODO 3" ('06) (featuring Joseph Lepore on bass and Rodney Green on drums) from Japanese label , Jazz City Spirits?^Muzak, all produced by a legendary guitarist ,Yosiaki Masuo.

His latest album "Do You Like Cappuccino?" is due on 2008/2009.

He also published his book"Excellent Jazz Solo Piano" (Rittor Music,Japan) in 2008.

Musicians who he worked with as a side man are Kenny Garret, Benny Golson,
Curtis Fuller, Ruth Brown, Terumasa Hino just to name a few.

For now(2008.). besides his piano trio, he plays for SOMI (vo) , Pete Zimmer (ds) group, Wayne Escoffery (ts)& Carolyn Leonhart (voc) group,Satoshi Inoue(guitar)group.

He got awarded by IAJE(International Association for Jazz Education)
for his outstanding service to Jazz education when his piano trio performed at IAJE in Toronto 2008.

He received BRIO(Bronx Recognized Its Own) Award for his performance in 2008.

He's been hosting Sunday Jam Session at the Cleopatra's Needle , a jazz club on 92nd and Broadway in NYC since 2002.