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Dave Bernstein Quartet: C the Blues (2002)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Dave Bernstein is one of the best jazz guitarists around, equally at home in both straight ahead/bop and traditional blues. This eclectic CD is a wonderful introduction to a fantastic musican who is not well known outside the San Francisco area.

The range of tunes included on this CD are astonishing. Simple, traditional solo guitar blues pieces like "Extemporaneous" and its adverbial counterpart "Extemporaneously" stand as contrast to rarely performed works such as Cecil Taylor's "Louise" and Bud Powell's "Oblivion." Frank Loesser's "Moon of Manakoora," a very interesting tune, receives perhaps its only recording in a jazz arrangement on this album.

Berstein's original compositions are fascinating and all seem to feature alternating tempi. For example, in "Flower & Flytrap" the music alternates between bossa nova and straight ahead swing. Bernstein's arrangement of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" is highly unique, and the guitarist manages the difficult task of interpolating a jazz waltz within a standard swing in 4/4 time.

The members of Bernstein's quartet are every bit the equal of their leader, and the group performs with a unity of purpose that is the hallmark of the finest steadily-working ensembles in jazz.

In sum, it is hard to think of a finer premiere album by a young jazz musician than Bernstein's C the Blues. It is refreshing to see someone carrying on and adding to the jazz guitar traditions of Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Herb Ellis.

Track Listing: Rabbits; Louise; Lurch; Flower & Flytrap; Oblivion; Extemporaneous; Goofy Foot; C the Blues; You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To; Moon of Manakoora; Ellen Bo Fellen; Bright Boy; Extemporaneously

Personnel: Dave Bernstein, guitar; Alan Steger, piano; Chris Amberger, badd; Michael Spencer, drums

Record Label: Wolfetones Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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