Iridium played host to a January guitar summit — a double bill featuring the Pat Martino Quartet and a Great Guitars trio with Howard Alden, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Frank Vignola (the 70s incarnation included Kessel, Byrd, and Ellis). The trio went first, swinging and lushly harmonizing their way through standards like “Indiana,” “Girl Talk,” and “Triste.” The dynamic level often hovered around pianissimo, allowing the gorgeous tones of the instruments to be fully appreciated. All three brandished custom Benedettos; both Alden and Bucky played seven-strings through small amps, while Vignola played acoustically, with only a mic picking up his blazing, rhythmically taut fretwork. Bucky’s propulsive chord solos and warm triple-octave phrases balanced Alden’s more treble-heavy line playing. Vignola, sounding remarkably close to Django, brought down the house with his athletic solo on “Lester Leaps In.” Then Martino took the stage with pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Steve Varner, and drummer Ari Hoenig. With his huge, bass-rich, reverby tone and iron-hard attack, Martino couldn’t have sounded more different — i.e., less acoustic — than what had come before. He swung like crazy, with heaps of help from Hoenig, the band’s greatest asset. But a muddy mix and an oversupply of pet phrases diminished the set’s impact.
- Fred Hersch, Live at the Village Vanguard (Palmetto)
- Dahl/Andersen/Heral, The Sign (Stunt)
- Omar Sosa, Ayaguna (Ota)
- OAM Trio, Flow (Fresh Sound/New Talent)
- Happy Apple, Youth Oriented (Sunnyside)
- Jim Cifelli New York Nonet, Tunnel Vision (Short Notice)