Bert Seager is by now unquestionably a master of the jazz piano trio, “Openings” being his fifth such CD in a row. Joined this time out by first-call Boston bassist John Lockwood and Yokohama-based drummer Kazumi Ikenaga in a collaborative outfit they’re calling KJB, the three longtime friends smartly survey a mix of four of Seager’s own tunes, three standards, and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler’s challenging “Everybody’s Song But My Own.”
On the standards, Seager is, as always, tasteful, accessible … and yet quietly adventuresome. He’s even more so on his own compositions. The up-tempo waltz “Bunny Dune,” recorded previously on Pioneer (IM-2026), gets a harder-swinging treatment here, thanks to Ikenaga’s tastefully propulsive timekeeping (the whole album is more energetic, though no less beautiful, than Pioneer, largely due to Ikenaga’s presence), and the pianist sounds a little more like Keith Jarrett and a little less like McCoy Tyner this time out. “What Started as Fun” began as chord changes to be improvised over by an earlier Seager trio; to these ears, his playing here sounds like Ralph Towner’s admirably uncluttered piano work in the band Oregon. “One for Dan,” written for bassist buddy Dan Greenspan, features some graceful bowing by Lockwood. “Wayne Drops” is a ballad mostly in 3/4, inspired by a sudden chord change in a Shorter tune.