How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Jimmy Bruno's new release, Midnight Blue, is his best to date. Bruno's past releases, though technically flawless, seemed to cater to the jazz elite and did not open the door for the rest. With "Blue Midnight," he not only opens the doors, but he also commands your presenceand won't let you go until the album ends. Bruno has been a respected professional for many years, but on this new CD he plays like a hungry young lion. He is going to make his mark with this oneï"-not only with jazz guitar aficionados, but also with music lovers from all genres and spectrums.
With his Philly bandmates, Bruno arrives at a place that embraces the old and the new with mutual respect. He uses a variety of guitar effects like chorus and overdrive. I am a jazz purist and generally don't like it when jazz guitarists head in this direction, but with Bruno it just sounds natural and makes sense.
Midnight Blue opens with a very unique version of "Secret Love." Bruno uses a slight chorus effect on his guitar, along with a groove that just won't quit. His next track is the original "Funk 'n Benny" (named after his solid body 7-string guitar, The Benny, made by the legendary luthier Bob Benedetto).
On the third tune, "Hypertension", the trademark Bruno chops rear their head as you think to yourself: "How the hell does he do that!" (In fact, I received a $75 speeding ticket because of this very tune.) I tried to appeal to the Massachusetts State Trooper's sense of artistry and tell him I was caught up in the new Jimmy Bruno CD and would try to control myself in the future. He stated: "If it's not Willie (Nelson), I don't want to hear about it."
The old chestnut "Stella By Starlight" pairs Bruno on his 7-string guitar and Gerald Veasley on his 6-string bass, creating an magically intimate duet. It's hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins, so tight is the arrangement.
The album is filled with surprises: wonderful originals, and new adataptions of old standards. The final tune, an Afro/Cuban version of John Coltrane's "Impressions," energized this piece and gives it an entirely fresh vibe.
The sidemen are wonderful; the tunes are fresh and vibrant; and there is truly a new Jimmy Bruno for the new Millennium.