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James Silberstein: Express Lane (2008)

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James Silberstein: Express Lane How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The way "From This Moment On begins, you might think you're in store for some high-spirited big band jazz. However, the small horn ensemble make up just part of the support for guitarist James Silberstein's Express Lane.

A fixture on the New York jazz scene, Silberstein has a long list of distinguished artists with whom he has associated. Among them are Zoot Sims, Norah Jones, Jack Wilkins and the Larry Elgart Orchestra. Silberstein's debut CD, Song for Micaela (CAP, 2004), reached the top 20s on Jazz Week's radio charts. Silberstein also performs at numerous jazz clubs, festival and concerts.

A roll by drummer Vince Cherico signals the start of Cole Porter's "From This Moment On, which features the small horn ensemble prominently in a fast-paced jam. Silberstein's lead is worthy of mention alongside such guitar luminaries as Wes Montgomery and Lee Ritenour. Throughout, Cherico adds a bit of juice on the drums, with Jim Rotondi adding a sizzling trumpet solo.

Jack Wilkins', "Kiwi Bird is given delightful treatment by Silberstein and company. Flutist Anne Drummond carries part of the melody, complemented by pianist Jim McCarron, bassist Harvie S and Rotondi's muted trumpet. Though this is Silberstein's show, all actors get to shine.

"Shadows, co-written by Silberstein and S, is one of four originals. This airy tune features Kate McGarry in a wordless vocal lead, harmonizing with Drummond and Rotondi. Silberstein is largely in the background early on, but steps up after a solo by saxophonist Eric Alexander. S, Cherico and percussionist Daniel Sadownick help give it a Latin vibe. After a mostly tranquil groove, the song picks up near the end with Rotondi's trumpet blaring, before reverting to the soft harmony.

Silberstein's title song is as its name implies. Supported by S, Cherico and McCarron, Silberstein delivers another Montgomery-esque performance. McCarron's solo sums it up as a fun, energetic piece. A call-and-response exchange between Silberstein, McCarron and Cherico follows the piano solo.

S sets the pace on another Silberstein original, "Glass Garden. Sadownick and Alexander are part of the supporting cast for this laid-back groove. Rotondi offers a Freddie Hubbard-like trumpet solo. Sadownick and Cherico help color McCarren's piano solo, before the lead shifts back to Silberstein.

"Glass Garden is arguably the best-written song with the richest sound. One of the beautiful things about Express Lane is that when listening to any of several songs, a strong case can be made that it is the best on the album. However, after such a declaration is made, one will likely second guess upon hearing the others. They're that good.

Track Listing: From This Moment On; Kiwi Bird; You Dont Know What Love Is; Come Rain or Shine; Shadows; Express Lane; A Simple Thank You; Glass Garden; My Romance; Skylark; Lament.

Personnel: James Silberstein: electic guitar; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7, 8); Jim Rotondi: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Steve Davis: trombone (1, 4); Harvie S: bass; Jill McCarron: piano (1-8, 10); Vince Cherico: drums (1-10); Daniel Sadownick: percussions (3, 5, 7, 8, 10); Anne Drummond: flute (2, 5); Kate McGarry: vocals (5).

Record Label: Consolidated Artists Productions

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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