OKB Trio enjoys 18 weeks on the RMR Top 50 Jazz Chart, Peaking at 1 Overall
“…Brian Woodruff’s OKB Trio. Featuring drummer Brian Woodruff, pianist Oscar Perez and bassist Kuriko Tsugawa, this group mixes rhythmic acrobatics with an uncanny ability to swing through the Great American Songbook or dance delicately through Brazilian and Latin standards.”
The OKB Trio was born at a jam session Woodruff ran at Blackbird’s in Astoria, Queens that gave him the privilege of playing with different musicians each week. On June 20th, 2010 he hit pay-dirt. He brought pianist Oscar Perez, bassist Kuriko Tsugawa, and himself together for the first time that Sunday and the chemistry was immediate. All three musicians arrived early and were set up and ready to go well before downbeat, so they made a toast, had a drink together, and proceeded to swing their butts off for the remainder of the evening. Woodruff explains “We didn’t program anything super-difficult, but there were a few simple originals and some standards you haven’t heard very often.” At the end of the gig, Tsugawa said “I always want to play with THIS trio,” and we all agreed.
Woodruff and Perez talked about the difficulties they experienced in featuring their own playing while leading larger groups that play elaborately arranged originals, so they decided that OKB would play simpler material, so they could focus on the groove and expressing themselves more freely on their instruments. As Woodruff proudly boasts, “We always keep the ‘ing’ in the swing.” While they are dedicated to swinging, Perez and Woodruff do have a tendency to jump off of buildings and set things on fire. Fortunately, Tsugawa is there to catch them with a net or hose things off when necessary.
Perez, Tsugawa, and Woodruff are proud of two important firsts The Ing… represents:
1) The first music ever recorded at Chris Benham’s thriving new studio, Big Orange Sheep, built by their dear friends Mr. Benham, and Kevin Thomas, with assistance from many members of their musical community, including Perez, who helped choose the piano, Woodruff, who spent a day laying electrical wire, and Daisuke Abe, art director for this CD, a board member of the Queens Jazz OverGround , and Tsugawa’s husband. The studio was under construction as OKB was planning to record, but as they were pressuring Benham to open, the impending birth of Abe and Tsugawa’s daughter bought needed time. The trio started recording on March 5th, 2015, the very morning Big Orange Sheep was open for business!
2) The first recording for QJOG Records. Founded in 2012 by Amanda Monaco, Josh Deutsch, Mark Wade, and Brian Woodruff, the Queens Jazz OverGround grew largely out of the success of the Blackbird’s Session, where OKB was born. The trio is proud to have been an integral part of so many of the initial successes that helped put Queens on the jazz map. More than a piano trio, the OKB Trio considers their collective mindset, heartfelt kinship, and sense of community a cornerstone of their artistry. The ING is in the swing, but it’s also evident in the “harmony” of the ensemble.