Jake Hertzog: Evolution (2011)
Evolution is the third solo outing from guitarist Jake Hertzog, Guitar Player Magazine contributor and member of the rock band, The Young Presidents. Although the album appears weighted towards jazz fusion, it is the rock-inflected phrases woven into the music that saves it from running into all-too-familiar jazz guitar footprints. The generational sound of this recording is only slightly more youthful than Marc Ribot or Nels Cline, its title referring, perhaps, to the advancement of an unapologetic brand of jazz-rock guitar that does not look back.
Hertzog does, however, rely on the traditionally experienced to assist with his message: producer Harvie S plays both electric and acoustic bass, along with some keyboards; and legendary jazz drummer Victor Jones plays very comfortably in the mix without even the slightest hint of being out of place. Hertzog benefits from multi-track overdubbing, working piercing lead lines smoothly over his smartly crafted jazz rhythm chords.
Things kick off, on "Don't Bother," with scraping strings, crunchy chords, and metallic runs. There is a sense of fun on "Timeline," with power chords sandwiched into the respite spots of its pumping, stop/start funk. Hertzog takes a pastoral and reflective approach on Bruce Springsteen's "Philadelphia," his sense of lyricism shining through. "Gloria" features a jittery single-note attack pattern that respectfully evokes the sensibilities of guitarist Joe Morris, while Hertzog's challenging range is demonstrated on the aptly titled "Renegade."
With familiarity breeding enough contempt in the jazz guitar market, newer sounds are always welcome. Not being shy about rock and experimentation gives Hertzog an edge in his composition and execution. Expectations have now been set from this guitarist's fresh voice, with Evolution easily one of the best jazz-rock guitar CDs of 2011.
Track Listing: Don't Bother; Firefly; Timeline; Streets of Philadelphia; Gloria; Forms; Renegade; Common Ground; Sleep Close; Solar Flare.
Personnel: Jake Hertzog: guitar; Victor Jones: drums; Harvie S: acoustic and electric basses, piano, Fender Rhodes.