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Guitar Slinger. Mark Elf last came my way with the very fine New York Cats in 1999. He returns with the equally strong Jen Bay release Live At Small's. On Live At Small's, Elf proves that he is a most excellent Bebop guitarist and that jazz is inherently best when played live. His recital is loose and frenetic, his tone round and unadorned as he winds his way through six standards and two originals.
Elf appropriately opens this set with Horace Silver's "Quick Silver". I say appropriately because I would say that Elf is to the guitar what Silver is to the piano in the same way that Joe Pass was to the guitar what Art Tatum (or Oscar Peterson, what a match made in heaven) was to the piano. He follows this opener with the original composition "109 West", a minor blues very much in the spirit (as well as structure) of Dizzy Gillespie's "Birk's Works". He goes on to prove his Bebop stripes on Monk's "52nd Street Theme" and Kenny Dorham's "The Theme". He excels in the ballads on "It Was Written In the Stars" and an upbeat "Stella By Starlight". He closes the disc with a reprised "109 West". This is an excellent jazz guitar album by an excellent jazz guitarist.
Track Listing: Quick Silver; 109 West; 52nd Street Theme; It Was Written In The Stars; Stella By Starlight; Too Close For Comfort; The Theme; 109 West. (Total Time: 59:28)
Personnel: Mark Elf: Guitar; Neil Miner: Bass; Joe Strausser: Drums.