This is guitarist Steve Rochinski’s second album for Jardis Records, and the choice of music isn’t as engaging as on the first one; Otherwise, it’s an effective straight–ahead studio session that benefits greatly from the presence on the five quartet numbers of the brilliant young pianist Chip Stephens. On the one hand, Rochinski earns high marks for unearthing a number of lesser–known tunes (Jobim’s “God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun,” Harry Warren’s “Summer Night,” Michael Leonard’s “I’m All Smiles”); on the other, none of them is as melodically pleasing as Victor Young’s “Beautiful Love,” Jerome Kern’s “They Didn’t Believe Me,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul,” Cole Porter’s “Get Out of Town” or Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” all of which were included on his earlier album, A Bird in the Hand. Rochinski and his colleagues do make the most of what they’ve chosen, with the leader engaging in three sparkling duets with bassist Jim Stinnett (Barney Kessel’s “Swedish Pastry,” Ellington’s “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart,” Rochinski’s “All the Shirts I Own”) and going it alone on an earnest two–part salute to guitarist Carl Kress (his own “Continuation on an Afterthought,” Kress’s “Love Song”). Smoky–voiced Donna McElroy joins the quartet on Rochinski’s impressive ballad, “The Thrill of It All.” Stephens enters with a flourish, soloing (and comping) perceptively on the opening “Devil,” and is similarly persuasive on “Thrill,” “Summer Night,” “Smiles” and the no–holds–barred finale, Lerner and Lowe’s “Almost Like Being in Love.” As for Rochinski, what we wrote about him in reviewing the earlier album still obtains: “the technique is immaculate, the concepts free–flowing, the propensity to swing unflagging” (although he swings less here than on Bird in the Hand, owing largely to the session’s more easygoing temper). But as Rochinski shows on “Almost Like Being in Love,” he can swing when he has to — as can Stephens, Stinnett and drummer Joe Hunt. A strong second date by Rochinski and company.
Contact:Jardis Records, D–66583 Spiesen–Elversberg, Schubertstrasse 12, Germany. Web site, www.jardis.de
Track Listing: God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun; The Thrill of It All; Swedish Pastry; I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart; Summer Night; I
Personnel: Steve Rochinski, guitar; Chip Stephens, piano; Jim Stinnett, bass; Joe Hunt, drums; Donna McElroy, vocal (