Considering how well Will Sellenraad clearly knows the history and ins-and-outs of jazz guitar, he might seem to be making a statement by using a title so reminiscent of Grant Green's classic Green Street (Blue Note, 1961). To be sure, this one does show the influence of some key six-stringers such as Green, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny and others through to the present, and it happens to have the same guitar-trio lineup. Still, from the droning guitar static which opens this session amid a skittering trance of trip-hop drums, Sellenraad shows that we're a long way from that familiar kind of Street indeed. This outing may nod to those early days of cool bop, but no more nor less than it taps into the current century's electronic minimalism and avant-garde.
That opener "Alter Ego" coalesces into a groovy trio jam soon enough, though drummer Eric McPherson still keeps the lively rhythm-bed partly rooted in dance-beat territory. Next up, it's a vague, hazy piece which meanders into abstract territory and back before the groove resumes. The leader's wheelhouse has plenty of free space (pun unintended) for both. "Little El" hiccups in a manner almost suited to club-glitchtronica, as the players busily evoke the scramble of urban rush hour. By contrast, their perversely easygoing read of Wayne Shorter's "Deluge" smoothly coasts along as the most straightforward piece here.
Sellenraad is happy to flow around the fretboard with clean-toned melody, but can be just as likely to step sideways with skewed chord sequences or fade into a ringing cloud of echo. Surprisingly, it is McPherson who sounds like the star player as often as not, snappily carrying things along when the other two stick to textures. Though the group likes to let things partly unravel, or jolt us with clattering, or let the strings get bent a hair out of tune, they use those tones for shading rather than diving into abrasive free-jazz or atonality. Continually crossing old-school cool with a challengingly sharp edge, Greene Street Vol. 1 shows a group firmly establishing their niche while still leaving future volume(s) able to go just about anywhere.
Alter Ego; Melancholy; Future; Deluge; Little El; Allegorical.
Will Sellenraad: guitar; Eric McPherson: drums; Rene Hart: double bass, electro.
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