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Dan Adler: Back To The Bridge

Dan Bilawsky By

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Guitarist Dan Adler's debut , All Things Familiar (Emdan Music, 2009), demonstrated his formidable skills, and brought together a noteworthy roster of artists, such as saxophonist Grant Stewart, to fill out a quintet lineup. For his followup, the Israeli-born, New York-based six stringer pares things down and goes with an organ trio format, enlisting the most renowned and recognizable organist of the modern era, Joey DeFrancesco, and longtime drummer, Byron Landham.

The music, as might be expected, is largely made up of swinging songs in the mid-to-up-tempo range, and plenty of the songs adhere to the predictable form of head-solo-solo—sometime solo trading with drums—head. The good thing is that performance trumps occasional form predictability every time, and with players this good, it's hard not to be impressed. In addition, Adler does find ways to spice things up, regardless of some relatively conventional structures. His tempo twists and retooling work on Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" create one such moment. Book-ending "A Beautiful Friendship" with some NOLA notions, superbly delivered by Byron's crushed snare drum sounds, represents another. The inclusion of a chill-inducing, mournful Israeli-standard/ballad, "Yatzanu At (We Left Slowly)," decidedly atypical fare for an organ album, is, yet, a third.

DeFrancesco's jaw-dropping technique and lightning quick reflexes show up here and there with a quick mid-solo run, but he largely reins in those tendencies and works, in a more sympathetic manner with, what Adler lays out for him. Sometimes, as on "Oh, Look At Me Now," the well-crafted organ bass lines are as easily noticed as any other work from DeFrancesco. Adler, likewise, demonstrates terrific facility and a clean-toned clarity throughout his playing. He self-edits with great taste, never overplaying or throwing in needless licks. Landham's snappy swing, clean brushwork and quick thinking give spark to these songs. When he pulls a reverse Art Blakey, playing a de-cresendoing press roll during the solo trading on "Oh, Look At Me Now," he demonstrates intelligence in simplicity.

Other highlights include a Sonny Rollins-style calypso original from Adler ("Between Jobs"), snappy version of "I've Never Been In Love Before"—which gives the guitarist a chance to throw in a quick "Surrey With The Fringe On Top" quote—and the album opener, "Silver And Gold," a tribute to pianist Horace Silver. It's hard to think of the organ trio tradition without thinking of the blues, and Adler closes the album with "The Smudge"—a mid-tempo blues vehicle from the late Oscar Peterson.

Back To The Bridge is a fine showcase for Adler's writing, arranging and guitar playing skills, and presents ten tracks of organ trio music in all its glory.

Track Listing: Silver And Gold; Oh, Look At Me Now; Joy Spring; Back To The Bridge; Good Old Days; A Beautiful Friendship; Yatsanu At (We Left Slowly); Between Jobs; I've Never Been In Love Before; The Smudge.

Personnel: Dan Adler: guitar; Joey DeFrancesco; organ; Byron Landham: drums.

Title: Back To The Bridge | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced

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