Steve Herberman: Ideals (2008)
Much of what is written in reviews about Steve Herberman's playing is analogous to the created illusion of two guitarists, or the use of overdubbing. Ideals, however, finds such a statement wanting and unsuitable. Guitar and piano trios have always had a distinctive vibe and aesthetic, but here, Herberman blurs the line with his adept application of counterpoint and refined harmonic epitome. Voicings never sound 'stock,' but well considered and purposeful and by no means overly contrived. Improvised lines roll out with subtle diversity in phrasing and above all, dynamic contrast. His accompaniment (both of himself and his band mates) is complimentary, exacting, and always stylish.
Following his sophomore recording, Action:Reaction (Reach Music, 2006), Herberman is again joined by drummer Mark Ferber and new recruit, bassist Tom Baldwin. However, in contrast to the previous albumwhich was entirely comprised of his own imaginative and polished compositionshe stretches out into the domain of the great jazz composers, visiting the works of George Gershwin, Victor Young, Mal Waldron and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The four originals presented here continue his strong exploration of harmony and form, with the melodies smoother and less angular than on previous outings. "She's For Me" is a prime example of this well developed and delivered work, and Baldwin adds an exemplar improvisation which connects perfectly with Herberman's playing, leading to the crisp tradeoff with Ferber.
The connection between bass and guitar is again supremely evident on Baldwin's arrangement of "Soon." Here, polar disparities between the whimsical four-on-the-floor, bass-led melody of the opening, and the virtuosic jostling at the close, reveal a strong and importantly effective relationship between the musicians. This is not to say that Ferber doesn't contribute; his rhythmic sensibility and precise flair behind the kit doesn't simply fulfill the drummer's clichéd role of "holding the trio together" (an unfair assessment of his impact), rather he truly furthers the group as a musical entity.
Herberman continues to be one of the finest guitarists of his generation, and Ideals slots perfectly into an already notable, and hopefully long, celebrated discography.
Track Listing: This Is New; Let Go; Will You Still Be Mine?; Delilah; Ideals; She's For Me; Soul Eyes; Soon; I Want To Be Happy; Someone To Light Up My Life; Upbeat.
Personnel: Steve Herberman: guitar; Tom Baldwin: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.
Record Label: Reach Music