Guitarist Andrew Cheshire isn't well-known, even within the jazz community, but he ought to be. On Pavane Pour Une Infante Difunte, his eighth CD on his Joule label, he reveals himself to be a thoughtful, always interesting, and at times inspired improviser.
This CD is the product of Cheshire's working trio, a tight, fluid group that can swing hard or rock out as the music requires. Cheshire likes to segue from rock or funk beats to swing tempos. He also likes to go from waltzing to 4/4 swing, as he does on "Footprints," and he likes to turn the beat around in a manner that suggests he may have listened extensively to Ornette Coleman. His sidemen are with him every step of the way.
Cheshire plays with a clean, slightly trebly tone with very little use of distortion, although he does some bending in his coda to "Ju Ju" and some of his "Paraphenalia" solo also uses rockish elements. Generally, although Cheshire's sound is classic jazz guitar, his improvising is full of surprises. He's never content to just run changes, and he often plays triplet figures over a 4/4 swing to create rhythmic tension variety. His song selection is also noteworthy. The title composition is by Ravel, and it makes a sturdy vehicle for jazz as the trio treats the theme with highly imaginative improvisations in both rock and swing rhythms. Every other tune is associated with Miles Davis (four by Wayne Shorter) but Cheshire makes them his own.
I don't want to neglect the sidemen here. According to the liner notes, they're both young, and this is their first record date. But they are fully effective cogs in a fine working band, and they solo intelligently, to boot. Fans of jazz guitar, particularly guitar trios, should pounce on this one.