The debut album from New York guitarist JC Stylles, Exhilaration and Other States
, swings through a varied selection of music running the gamut from Wayne Shorter
and Billie Holiday
to Cole Porter
and Stevie Wonder
. Reminiscent of early organ trios, the Australian-born Stylles features an impressive trifecta of his own with drummer Lawrence Leathers
, and Hammond B-3 organist Pat Bianchi
comping and performing the bass role duties when not playing off the guitarist with his own marvelous solos.Though this is a standard organ trio format, Stylles delivers the lead melodic lines, affirming that this is a guitar-led group.
The group is an outgrowth of the guitarist's four-year work with the Harlem Groove Band, led by soulful organist Seleno Clarke, from whom Stylles borrows the sprite "Tune For Roger." It was with this band that Stylles met Leathers and, after taking on a new gig at Perk's Jazz Club in Harlem, Bianchi joined the group for an eighteen-month residency where the trio developed a blend of music from R&B and pop to light jazz standards, setting up the repertoire on this recording.
A big Bobby Hutcherson
fan, Stylles chooses the Eddie Marshall
tune "Knucklebean," from the vibraphonist's 1977 Blue Note album of the same name, to kick off the fireworks. Both Stylles and Bianchi strut their impressive musical prowess on this high-powered number. Stevie Wonder
's "I Can't Help It," made popular by the late Michael Jackson
, is another burner offering plenty of space for more expressive soloing. Other swinging pieces include a rapid rendition of Porter's classic "Love for Sale," Wayne Shorter
's "Pinocchio" and "Samba Steps," a number where Leathers is especially pronounced.
It is on the several ballads however, that the guitarist presents some of his more exhilarating work, sounding a bit like renowned guitarist George Benson
, whose music and playing have left an indelible impression, clearly influencing Stylles' development. Billy Eckstine
's "I Want To Talk About You" is the first of the ballads, followed by "Don't Explain" and "It Seems Like You're Ready," rounding out the soft touches of the set.
Stylles alters the landscape with a highly charged state of musical pleasure, presenting a range of styles that work well on Exhilaration And Other States,
a state worth exploring.