As a guitarist, nowhere are you more exposed than in jazz, particularly if you aim for that clean, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green sound; elsewhere, particularly in pop and rock, the riffs, add-ons, the band, even studio wizardry can cover the lack of skill or mistakes. And then, unless it is a solo guitar album, you certainly have to have a band that will match the quality of the playing you exhibit.
Based on the evidence of his latest album, a View Of Earth, Boston Area guitarist-composer Nick Grondin strives exactly for that sound and, along with his band, comes out as a clear winner! Belonging to a younger generation of performers and composers, Grondin has been around, performing regularly in the Boston Area, the US and Europe, but also with artists like Bob Moses, Dave Holland and Joshua Redman.
What Grondin exhibits on this album is a great sense of melody and soloing, never attempting to dominate proceedings but knowing exactly when to show his feel for the guitar and how much of the skill fits the song at handexactly what he does on the opener "Ships Passing," for example. It makes no difference whether it is one of his compositions or a cover, like the excellent version of U2's "I Still Haven't found What I'm Looking For," for which he obviously has a penchantno wonder, since Grondin won the 2008 DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award for Best Arrangement of "Strawberry Fields Forever."
Throughout the album, Grondin lets all the players stretch out, and they reward him with some excellent playing, particularly Tucker Antell on saxophones. A particular standout is "So Close So Far," where almost everybody gets a chance to shine, and Grondin and vocalist Aubrey Johnson, show what they are made of.
What we get in "A View From Earth" is a melodic jazz album that at the same time can be pleasing to the ears of a wider audience and still keep the integrity of jazz playing and composition. In some ways, it shows what the dreaded 'smooth jazz' category should actually sound like.
Ships Passing; Everybody Wins; I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For; So Close, So Far; Softline; Frenchman
St. Funk; Secret Song; Little Wing; Rise and Shine; A View of Earth;
Nick Grondin, guitar, vocals, composition; Jon Cowherd, piano, keys; Michel Reis, piano; Brian Friedland, keys;
Tucker Antell, saxes; Aubrey Johnson, voice; Vivek Patel, trumpet, flugelhorn; Brad Barrett, double bass; Dan
Carpel, double bass; Lee Fish, drums;
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.