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Joe Jewell Quartet: Every Note Counts

Dan McClenaghan By

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Joe Jewell has fallen into that always-a-sideman, never-a-leader category—a situation he's been happy with, until now. He's led the Joe Jewell Quartet since 2004, and for Every Note Counts, the guitarist brought the group into the studio for his freshman release.

The program can be tagged "eclectic," representing a wide range of musical styles. The group opens with guitar legend Jim Hall's "Something Special," sounding bright and crisp. R&B artist Bobby Hebb's classic 1966 hit, "Sunny," is next, the light and familiar melody floating over the rhythm section's deep groove.

Jewell has years of classical training under his belt—it's Dr. Jewell (University of Southern California), to be formal—having performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, among others. He nods to his classical side with the inclusion of "La Catedral (Prelude)/Estate," opening with a work by Augustine Barrios Mangore and leading smoothly into the beautiful Bruno Martino/Bruno Brighetti bossa tune.

The "eclectic" label can sometimes mean a lack of focus, but on Every Note Counts, it applies in the best sense of the word. Jewell and his quartet have crafted a cohesive and novel ensemble sound. The group is anchored by bassist Baba Elefante's thick, pulsating bottom end, which counterpoints Jewell's luminous guitar and Dr. Reed Gratz's glowing Fender Rhodes in front of drummer Mike Bennett's pastel colors and impeccable timekeeping.

The disc also includes the much-covered Sam Rivers tune "Beatrice" and a very bluesy, down-and-dirty "Back at the Chicken Shack," as well as Lerner and Lowe's "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face." It closes with a relaxed and rollicking take on Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud."

Track Listing: Something Special; Sunny; La Catedral (Prelude)/Estate; A Child is Born; Alone Together; Back at the Chicken Shack; Beatrice; I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face; While We're Young; Dream Dancing; In Walked Bud.

Personnel: Joe Jewell: guitar; Reed Gratz: Fender Rhodes; Baba Elefante: bass; Mike Bennett: drums, percussion.

Title: Every Note Counts | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Self Produced

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