Just about every new jazz guitarist who comes down the road cites Wes Montgomery as an influence. For once, on Jim Robitaille's To Music
, you can hear it in the fluid grace, the slight bite in the tone. But the set isn't retro in any way; To Music
has an unmistakable modern sound based on the guitarist's strikingly well-crafted songs and forward-looking arrangements.
Of the nine songs offered here, no less than three are award-winners (from the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Competition and the Great American Song Contests): "Arthur C," "Miro," and "Lost and Found." And apparently those people giving out the awards know a great tune when they hear one. Without exception, every song on the disc brims with very satisfying depth, based (among other things) on intriguing leading chord progressions.
The band, a quintet featuring piano and sax (tenor and soprano) in front of a bass/drum rhythm section and alongside Robitaille's guitar, drifts between a tight groove mode and a freer flexible flow as well as anybody out there, sounding like the child of the veteran groove-oriented Yellowjackets and the freer, dark-hued sound of the newcomers Andy McWain Quartet ( Starfish
, Fuller St. Music, '03). To Music
is a highly polished, well-crafted set that benefits greatly from Robitaille's arranging skills, especially his weave of guitar/piano. It's got to be on the short list of debuts of the year.
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Track Listing: Freedom Waltz, Arthur C, Parallels, Adagio, West End Strut, Hypnotic Nights, Miro, Yesterdays, Lost and Found
Personnel: Jim Robitaille--guitar; Dave Liebman--tenor and soprano saxes; Matt Richard--piano; Dave Zinno--bass; Chris Poudrier--drums