Graham Dechter steps out from the guitars chair with the Hamilton/Clayton Jazz Orchestra, fronting a quartet with fellow Orchestra members Jeff Hamilton on drums, John Clayton on bass and Tamir Hendelman on piano. The familiarity amongst the players brings about an easy assimilation of style and development.
Dechter is a lyrical player, his succulent notes drinking deep from the melody before going out into wider pastures, where he develops the theme with layered harmonies. The selections offer a wide enough panorama for him to show his dexterity and he swings lithely, whether playing ballads with deep emotion or going on energetic bop rides.
Two ballads stand out. The haunting strains of Clayton's bow are met with the gentle lilt of Dechter's guitar on "With Every Breath That I Take." The two build a slow fire, with Dechter changing the shades subtly. Add the conversation between Hamilton and Hendelman into the arrangement and the tune becomes one of the best on the CD. It's a fine companion to the winsome "The Nearness Of You," which is washed in soft shaded chords and crystalline notes that enunciate and explore the melody. Dechter brings the nuances to life and then swings, working the two moods into a seamless whole.
"Broadway" beckons with its bebop groove. Dechter rides out into the open on the beat, his spirited romp wrapped in a blaze of colorful phrases. He stays on track with his ideas and forward movement, never slipping into excess.
When the blues come calling, as they do on "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues," Dechter roves a dreamy landscape. The blues feel is inherent in his ruminations, with an occasional snap or an elongated note on bent strings to add emphasis.
It would be remiss not to mention Clayton, Hamilton and Hendelman. They not only support Dechter impeccably, they push him along and help him realize the compositions fully. But Dechter is the prime mover and, given his prowess here, Right On Time signals the presence of a bright, new talent.
Personnel: Graham Dechter: guitar; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums; Tamir Hendelman: piano.