Cool Jazz Guitar with BK Trio

Bruce Von Stiers

Brian Kooken is a jazz guitarist whose influences include Wes Montgomery and Pink Floyd's David Gilmore. An added connection is that he shares a birthday with both artists. Taught guitar by his father as a youth, Kooken continued his musical studies at the collegiate level. While finishing up his undergrad work, Kooken played in a jazz ensemble recording directed by Hank Levy. Later, he toured with Martha Wright.

This year finds Kooken leading his own jazz trio. The group is simply called the BK Trio. They released their debut album a short time ago. The title of the album is Hit It.

Hit It has eight songs and a play time of forty-six minutes. The album was self-released. Kooken composed all of the songs on the album.

Besides Kooken on guitar, BK Trio has Greg Hatza on the Hammond B3 organ and Robert Shahid on drums. Hatza also toured with Martha Wright, among other artists and leading his own group, the Greg Hatza Organization. Shahid founded The New Philadelphia Jazz Quartet and has fronted other groups such as The Robert Shahid Organ Quartet, which featured Hatza and Kooken as members.

Opening the album is the title track, Hit It. It is a head bopping piece with the guitar leading.

Always Looking Up is a moderately paced song, which like the first one, has the guitar leading. But there is a really cool organ thrown into it.

Brazilian Blues sounds somewhat like the title suggests. It has a kind of samba beat with a bit of subtle blues mixed in.

Hatza's Groove is a fun, toe-tapping piece. It, as is most of the songs on the album, prominently features the guitar as the main instrument.

A slow and easy tone is set in It's Monday And I've Got The Blues. There is some really cool organ in the song.

A little groove melded into some funk can be found in In That Funk Again.

5 Minutes Late has a classic jazz guitar styling.

The album closes with a slick groove piece called Soul For Shadid.

Hit It has mostly light groove music. Kooken shows immense talent in both playing and composing. And adding artists he's played with before to complement his playing greatly enhances the music.

Hit It is available on various platforms. To hear some of the album, visit Brian Kooken's official site at . There is also a band page on Facebook for Kooken and the trio at


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© 2020 Bruce E Von Stiers