The John Hart Trio: Indivisible (2004)
John Hart is one of those guitarists with whom such references are inevitable. Listen to the strumming guitar work on "Runs in the Family" and echoes ring of bassist Marc Johnson's recording with Frisell and Metheny, The Sound of Summer Running . "Not My Generation," with its lyrical lines and Midwestern shading, is reminiscent of Pat Metheny's earliest recordings, most notably Bright Size Life. There is a certain idiosyncrasy about the rubato "Child at Heart" that suggests a slightly more towards-the-centre Frisell. And the 7/4 funk of "Clone Me" has a taste of Scofield's mid-'90s Blue Note soul work, albeit with smoother edges.
But dig deeper into Hart's new album and you'll find a guitarist who may be easily referenced but manages to create his own approach, one that is more straightforward and unaffected than most of the players mentioned so far. And while the cited references are stylistically broad players who have clearly dabbled with a variety of concepts, Hart seems most content when he is exploring diversity within the confines of a single recording. "Techno Prisoners" may smell of fusion, but it is sandwiched between a gorgeous solo acoustic guitar rendition of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "Awakening," another acoustic piece that find Hart and his trio exploring an intriguing hybrid of Spain and the blues. In fact, while Hart's electric playing is just fine, he may be at his most distinctive on the acoustic tracks. "Blame It on My Youth" is a richly evocative ballad, with a certain folksiness that is, as Hart himself puts it, "a James Taylor meets Keith Jarrett take on a well-known standard."
Throughout, bassist Bill Moring and drummer Tim Horner play far more than simply a support role. Horner, in particular, has an open-ended approach that is reminiscent, at times, of Norwegian Jon Christensen. And Moring demonstrates the kind of subtle intuition that, like the Pat Metheny Group's Steve Rodby, is so essential yet, in some ways, a bit invisible.
With a sound that incorporates a variety of influences into a focused concept with an emphasis on equality, Indivisible refers to and succeeds at being a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Track Listing: Runs in the Family; Not My Generation; Child at Heart; Clone Me; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Techno Prisoners; Awakening; Single Petal of a Rose; Indivisible; Blame It on My Youth; The Thing
Personnel: John Hart (electric and acoustic guitar), Bill Moring (bass), Tim Horner (drums)
Record Label: Hep Records