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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 while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.