James Silberstein: Express Lane (2008)
Composer/guitarist James Silberstein embarks on a musical commute through the non-stop highway of jazz on his very own Express Lane, driving eleven terrific charts of contemporary and Latin jazz grooves making for one burner of an album. This represents the artist's second release and follow-up to his debut, Song For Micaela (Consolidated Artists Production, 2004).
For this recording, Silberstein brings back saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist Harvie S and drummer Vince Cherico. Trumpeter Jim Rotondi replaces the great Randy Brecker, while vocalist Kate McGarry appears on one track, replacing Carla Cook who graced the first album.
Blasting off with a fast-paced, up-tempo rendition of Cole Porter's "From This Moment On, Silberstein's electric guitar almost plays second fiddle, with Rotondi and Alexander blowing this one away. On guitarist Jack Wilkins' "Kiwi Bird, there is a nice dialogue between Silberstein and Harvie S, with a fine interlude from Rotondi's muted horn and forays from flautist Anne Drummond.
Silberstein takes an old standard, "You Don't Know What Love Is, and spins it into a sensuous Latin jazz number, allowing the bassist a well-placed solo before finishing off with some soulful play of his own on this delicious percussive tune. The Mercer/Arlen classic "Come Rain or Shine dashes out of the gate loudly, with the horns and drums in high gear, then relaxes as the guitarist takes over with beautiful riffs throughout.
On Silberstein's "Shadows, McGarry weighs in on wordless vocals as Alexander turns in a solid solo, followed by Silberstein's crisp picking delivering a measure of spice with a sprinkle of Latin jazz.
There's a lot of good music on this album, including a couple of outstanding numbers. The first is the progressive Silberstein number, "Glass Garden, the last time where the trumpeter and saxophonist appear, with Jill McCarron making her mark on the piano. The other sparkler is Hoagy Carmichael's famous "Sky Lark, played with a decidedly bossa nova flavor and pleasurable Wes Montgomery-like chords from Silberstein, who is well accompanied by McCarron's stylish play.
The finale, "Lament, finds the guitarist in a brief solo performance for a soft ending to a smooth-winding musical trek by a marvelous jazz guitarist and light ensemble. Express Lane is definitely the route you will want to take if you're looking for an exciting and jazzy destination.
Track Listing: From This Moment On; Kiwi Bird; You Don't Know What Love Is; Come Rain or Shine; Shadows; Express Lane; A Simple Thank You; Glass Garden; My Romance; Skylark; Lament.
Personnel: James Silberstein: electic guitar; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7, 8); Jim Rotondi: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Steve Davis: trombone (1, 4); Harvie S: bass; Jill McCarron: piano (1-8, 10); Vince Cherico: drums (1-10); Daniel Sadownick: percussions (3, 5, 7, 8, 10); Anne Drummond: flute (2, 5); Kate McGarry: vocals (5).