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Mark Kleinhaut: Amphora

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The Invisible Music label continues to bring before the public the talented jazz musicians who are natives of Maine or who now live there. Guitarist Mark Kleinhaut is one of the beneficiaries of this label's endeavors. A graduate of New Jersey's Rutgers University, Kleinhaut relocated to Maine in 1988 where he has become well known for his work as a solo jazz artist as well as with other first rate jazz musicians from the New England area. On his first solo disk for Invisible Music, Kleinhaut has chosen to go with a set made up entirely of originals, 10 of his own and "Interlucent" composed by fellow ensemble members, Josh Davis and Phil Verrill. I have always felt that limiting the content of an album to unfamiliar originals, especially for the maiden album, is unnecessarily risky. Typically, listeners like to hear something familiar so they can compare interpretative approaches taken by other musicians (here guitarists) who have recorded the tune. Nevertheless, Kleinhaut's has more success than most who have taken this route. First, for there is more than sufficient variety in his compositions to get and hold ones attention. Second, they allow him to show off his considerable technical and improvising skills. Kleinhaut follows the path forged by such straight ahead jazz guitarists as Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and the guitarist to whom this album is dedicated, the recently departed Ted Dunbar, as distinguished from such fusion, rock oriented guitarists as John Scofield and Pat Metheny. Kleinhaut is equally at home in with the electric and the challenging, acoustic guitar.

Kleinhaut's compositions offer something for just about everybody. "A Million Notes From Now," in medium tempo, spotlights Josh Davis cleanly plucked bass behind Kleinhaut's quiet, ruminative explorations. "Miss Knows (It All)" is a relaxed bossa nova while "Suki's Web" creates the image of what it's like to be enticed into a labyrinth of special delights. Josh Davis' bowing skills come into play on a dark, almost moody "Illadroly." The musical ambience is happily brightened by the swinging "Another Spring," with Thomas Snow's bubbling piano getting major solo time. "Interlucent" creates an image of the exotic orient as Phil Verrill's softly clashing cymbals punctuate Kleinhaut's guitar. The title tune "Amphora" done acoustically recalls Django Reinhardt's gypsy influenced playing and is a highlight of the album.

Although the music gets a bit intense, Kleinhaut's maiden album as a leader deserves attention and is recommended.

Tracks:Amphora#; A Million Notes from Now; Suki's Web*; Flowers and Flames*; Illadroly; Miss Knows (It All)#; Horse from the North*; Forty-Nine#; Interlucent; Another Spring*; We Never Knew

Mark Kleinhaut - Guitar; Phil Verrill - Drums; Josh Davis - Bass; Thomas Snow* - Piano;John Hunter - Bass#; Annegret Baier# - Percussion /TD>


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