A deeply satisfying solo effort that recalls the true meaning of jazz guitar. New Yorker Jeffrey Burr has bravely concocted an EP of solo archtop-guitar music that comes close in spirit and accomplishment to the solo works of Joe Pass, Al Viola and other past masters. With so many young jazz-minded guitarists these days trying to emulate the electrified power of John Scofield and Pat Metheny, it's refreshing to find someone with a heartfelt appreciation for the traditions of pre-fusion jazz guitar. Burr ably reflects the joy and melancholy of the hollowbody era here, with a piano-influenced technique that's largely his own.
Burr interprets two of his own compositions and three true jazz classics on this disc. "Witchcraft" and "Moonlight in Vermont" are certifiable chestnuts of American music, but it's still fun to hear them revisited with such love and vitality as Burr does here. Without a rhythm section elbowing him in one direction or another, the guitarist is free to concentrate relaxedly on the meat and heart of the tunes. Burr's handling of chords is particularly inviting; he inserts them much as a pianist's left hand would amidst the right-hand melody lines. The resulting drive is more than sufficient to keep each selection aloft.
"I Fall In Love Too Easily" begins with a confident single-note line, the chords peeking through bit by bit until they become fully part of the equation. Burr's own "Myoko" is languid and reflective, perhaps a sound portrait of a loved one. "The Logician" is jauntier but still contemplative, the bass notes booting things gently along.
If you're looking for the next McLaughlin or Vai, Jeffrey Burr is assuredly not for you. But if you're seeking an artist who understands what the title "jazz guitarist" is really all about, Burr's disc is highly recommended. It's letter-perfect for relaxing with a glass of tea on a warm afternoon. May we hear much more from him in the near future.