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Mark Elf: Liftoff

Jim Santella By

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Guitarist Mark Elf enjoys the rush of re-interpreting music by masters such as John Coltrane. He also enjoys creating fiery originals that allow him to work out on the instrument the way Trane did. It doesn't matter that one played saxophone and other plays guitar, since both artists share a deep appreciation for the creation of animated magic.

With Liftoff, Elf takes his guitar for a balanced drive that includes both up-tempo romps and sensual ballads. He loves to fill each piece with showers of staccato notes that fly like bullets, however, even the ballads. Elf's technique allows him to push hard. Every selection is a challenge that he prefers to meet head on. Notes fly and spirits soar.

The stellar piano trio that Elf has chosen for this program blends intuitively with his forceful drive. David Hazeltine comps comfortably and solos with authority, while Peter Washington and Lewis Nash settle down with a solid rhythmic character.

Most of Elf's selections drive fast and furious. He loves to let his fingers fly. He introduces the baritone guitar on two numbers, producing a tonal range that is only slightly lower than standard. While the session is designed to showcase the straight-ahead formula and all four artists demonstrate superb musicianship throughout, it tends to bypass any opportunity to letting their feelings show. Elf prefers to concentrate on his up-tempo technical dexterity in place of heartfelt warmth.

Track Listing: Liftoff; Thanks For the Memory; Deception Blues; Chuy's Challenge; I've Never Been In Love Before; How Low Can You Go; Fundingsland Waltz; Left Hand Corner; Deception Blues; Liftoff (Alternate Take).

Personnel: Mark Elf: guitars; David Hazeltine: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Daniel Sadownick: percussion (4).

Title: Liftoff | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Jen Bay Records

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