Peter Mazza: Through My Eyes (2009)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
On Through My Eyes, guitarist Peter Mazza explores a diverse range of tones and sonic palettes, combining jazz sensibilities with a rock aesthetic. Mazza, a 1995 semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, might ruffle the feathers of jazz traditionalists with overdubbing and use of steel string acoustic (in open tunings no less), but the result of this forward thinking style is a recording that brims with energy and creativity.
"Burned," a funky, danceable track, starts things off. Mazza and saxophonist Will Vinson double on the melody, creating a fluid, seamless sound. Mazza's solo on this tune is melodic and grooving and Matt Penman adds strong support on upright bass. "Close to My Heart," a mellow, lyrical ballad, showcases the guitarist's pensive side. The arrangement builds in intensity as the tune goes along, with Vinson and Mazza once again doubling the melody after Mazza's solo. Drummer Bill Campbell also does some nice work on this track, helping to move the music forward, while never overshadowing the tune.
"Testa Rossa," one of the standout tracks, begins with just a steel-string acoustic guitar; after eight measures, the whole band comes in with a supremely funky groove. The distorted, wah-wah laced electric guitar, dubbed over the acoustic, adds a nice touch. Vinson takes a great solo on this tune, displaying a searing, emotionally-driven tone.
Other highlights include versions of "My Funny Valentine," with a beautifully played finger-style interlude, and "On Green Dolphin Street," both arrangements emphasizing Mazza's penchant and talent for creative guitar voicings.
While Mazza owes a debt to guitar greats such as Pat Metheny and John Scofield, his style is clearly his own. Through My Eyes is a worthwhile, enjoyable listen from an inventive and passionate musician.
Track Listing: Burned; Close To My Heart; Testa Rossa; Goodbye; Alphabet City; My Funny Valentine; On Green Dolphin Street; Shangri-la; Dreaming of Open Spaces; Alone with You.
Personnel: Peter Mazza: electric, acoustic and baritone guitar; Bill Campbell: drums; Matt Penman: acoustic bass; Will Vinson: alto, soprano sax.
Record Label: LateSet Records