Swedish-born, Boston-based jazz guitarist Bjorn Wennas' debut CD, Early Summer Sketch starts out with a sizzle. "Off" is an up-tempo jaunt with a memorable melody, stinging guitar chops, and crisp sax/guitar unison. Wennas' solo has a tang to it as it dances with his band's bubbling rhythm. The brooding gem "Early Summer Sketch" slows things down and features some of the disc's best sax/guitar interplay.
The CD is touted as "contemporary jazz with a rock and pop sensibility," and with "Mind Games", the sound goes perhaps too far in that "pop" direction with Carmen Marisco's wordless vocals that over-sweeten the sound, in spite of the sharp sting of Wennas' guitar solo. "For Bjorn" bops along with Kristof Bacso's sax solo doing a contained burn in front of jouncing rhythm, leading into more inventive guitar licks by Wennas.
The closer, "Love Song," is a tune written by Wennas, featuring lyrics from an e.e. cummings poem sung by Carmen Marisco. Marisco's voice is pleasant – and the assumption here is the projected appeal is more pop than jazz – but it doesn't add much to the mix. The set really needed not another ballad here, but something up-tempo to close things out with some pop.
A fine debut; a nicely interactive band with a definite future.
Track Listing: Off, Early Summer Sketch, Mind Games, For Bjorn, Love Song
Personnel: Bjorn Wennas, guitar; Carmen Marisco, vocals (tracks 3 & 5) Ziv Ravitz, drums; Jeff Denson, bass;
Kristof Basco, saxes
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.