Ron Affif: Ringside
Like Cannonball Adderley's record Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Ringside was recorded in front of a small studio audience at Fantasy Studios (over three days last February). Affif begins the program with a faster-than-usual "If I Were A Bell," and turns in one of the least corny versions of this song in memory. "Don't Make Me Pull That Tongue Out" (great title!) and "Uncle Joe," two of four Affif originals, are perhaps the disc's best tracks and clearly suggest Wes Montgomery's chord structures on those rollicking Riverside romps. When Affif slows the pace, though, as he does on "Farewell," the solo "Holly" or the lovely "I Should Care," he tends toward single-note phrases reminiscent of Joe Pass.
Affif distinguishes himself, however, in the resonant bell-like tone he manages to produce from his guitar. Another plus is a style that's all his own and very unusual for a guitarist. Whether playing at fast tempos (as in the excellent "Alone Together") or slower ones, Affif is never too hurried to spit out a phrase or an idea. He labors over his melodies with a precision that is patient and caring. Yet he never once betrays conception or construction by hanging on notes too long or stretching ideas over too many measures. Very classy and worth a close listen.
An earlier guitar tribute to Miles Davis should have brought Ron Affif more attention. Hopefully, Ringside will. It's quite a good disc that guitar-trio fans are sure to enjoy.
Record Label: Fantasy Jazz