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You can stare at a cover photo and almost expect a certain type of music. In the case of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, the group is a seen at the side of a desert road converged on a 1939 yellow Lasalle coupe that has the hood raised. It is an enigmatic photograph and I expected something retro, given the instrumental set-up (guitar, acoustic bass and drums) like Postwar Swing, King Cole Trio-type or even Western Swing from The LaVerne Christie Trio.
The music turns out to be straight-ahead jazz trio music with songs that come from both the Great American Songbook as well as jazz standards with one original. The tunes are well chosen, the tempo diversified and the feel of swinging all intact. However, the overwhelming vibe that I got was that this is a group that is more at home in a lounge as opposed to a larger jazz venue and perfect for an opening act for a Vegas name performaner.
The mention of Las Vegas is no mere coincidence. The Christie Trio has relocated to the Nevada metropolis and become part of the jazz renaissance there. LaVerne Christie's guitar techniques are flawless but lack a certain warmth on certain tracks. The interplay between the guitarist and her trio (Mark Ruben, bass and Mike Candito, drums) is quite evident and the threesome performs admirably.
It is difficult to complain about a set list like this and the use of such titles as Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance," Monk's "Well, You Needn't," Gerry Mulligan's "Line For Lyons" and Chano Pozo's "Tin Tin Deo" helps the overall impression of the album
Track Listing: Stompin' at the Savoy; Dolphin Dance; My Little Suede Shoes; Pick Yourself Up; Tin Tin Deo; Well,You Needn't; East of the Sun,West of the Moon; The Sunset Hour; Stardust; Line For Lyons; Be My Love.
Personnel: LaVerne Christie: guitar; Mark Ruben: bass; Mike Candito: drums
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.