Chris Winters: Impressions (2002)
The Blujazz web site categorizes guitarist Chris Winter as a "hybrid improvisational artist, and indeed, there are strains of blues, soul, and funk to be found alongside the jazz elements on Impressions. The music, composed by Winters, is smooth, assured, and flowing.
Throughout, Winters proves to be a more than able technician. He plays with a delicate touch on the ruminative "Love's Lament and lights a fire under the spry shuffle of "Skuffle. "Trials and Tribulations engages in some martial funk, capped by an unexpected wah-wah skewed solo. John Kattke's work on organ serves as a steady foil to offset Winter's nimble runs.
However, one can't help but notice how much the album's cover photo of Winters seated in a vast white expanse echoes the sterility of a great deal of the music within. No amount of technique can do much to overcome the bloodlessness of the tepid, warmed over funk of "Skippy The Peanut or the pinched atmospherics of "Eye Of The Storm. Too much of the spark of improvisational playing seems to have been sanded away, leaving only a patina of solid, yet uninspired musicianship.
The studio can have the unfortunate effect of stripping away the vital, unplanned moments of musical interaction. Impressions features fine musicians who seem to be playing almost in a vacuum. It would be interesting to see how the electric arena of the stage might charge the same performers. Winters and his bandmates show promise, and here's hoping that future efforts can build on this one by ditching some of the politeness and gloss.
Track Listing: Trials And Tribulations; Stacy; Mysterious Woman; Sylvia's Mood; Skippy The Peanut; Love's Lament; Back At The Jam; Eye Of The Storm; Skuffle; Song For Alexander; Ventura Blvd.; Faith In Love
Personnel: Chris Winters-guitar; Larry Beers-drums (tracks 2,5,6,7,9,11,12); Mark Gratama-drums (tracks 8,10); Steve Howard-bass; John Kattke-organ, piano; Kevin Johnston-drums (tracks 1,3,4)