Billed as a co-led recording, drummer and Lyte Records founder David Lyttle introduces the extraordinary guitarist Andreas Varady to the world on a conventional collection of standards and four original compositions. Thirteen-year old Hungarian gypsy guitarist Varady is the real star of the show, dazzling not only with his tremendous technical ability but with a touch and an emotive depth to his playing that belies his age. Varady's father Bandi Varady on rhythm guitar and bassist Michael Janisch
bring considerable rhythmic oomph to the mix.
Varady wears his influences on his sleeve; guitarists George Benson
, Wes Montgomery
, Joe Pass
and Django Reinhardt
have all left their mark on the young rising star. Varady's breezy "A Day in New York" and the bop-flavored "Blues For Edward" prove that he can also pen a decent tune. Lyttle's compositions run from the ska-influenced "True Story"with Varady conjuring the wily spirit of the great Jamaican jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin
to the boppish "Swing Thing." Lyttle displays his own inventive chops on these two tracks, but on the whole he's content to swing the quartet.
"Donna Lee" is played out between Varady and Janisch who trade licks back and forth with great fluidity. "Festival 48"Varady's tribute to Reinhardtsees Varady execute stunningly rapid lines on acoustic guitar that guitarist and Reinhardt acolyte Bireli Lagrene
would be proud of. Jazz standards "Giant Steps" and "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" are taken at a leisurely pace that allows Varady's emotional nuance to shine through. Varady's sparkling solo interpretation of "The Shadow of Your Smile" shows just why guitar legend Martin Taylor
has invited the young phenomenon to tour as a duo.
Lyttle and Varady's main achievement lies in refashioning overly familiar material so that it shines anew. Varady may steal most of the thunder but at the end of the day this is assuredly a rousing quartet production.
Gay McIntyre The Music Within Me
Veteran alto saxophonist/clarinetist Gay McIntyre brings all his years of experience to this charming straight ahead session, and at 79 years of age at the time of recording, that's a lot of laps around the track. In a six-decade career, McIntyre has played with the British trad jazz giants Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball and Irish jazz guitar legend Louis Stewart
. Surrounded by some of Ireland's finest jazz musicianstrumpeter Linley Hamilton
, pianist Johnny Taylor, bassist David Redmond
and drummer Dominic Mullanthis set represents the reeds player's debut recording as leader.
McIntyre doesn't set out to reinvent the wheel on these seven timeless standards but there's much to admire in the passionate, nuanced soloing and collective brio. The quintet lays out its store on "Days of Wine and Rose," with the leader, Hamilton and Taylor all impressing. McIntyre switches to clarinet on a sunny version of "Darn That Dream," dovetailing beautifully with Hamilton. A fine balladeer, McIntyre's soulful playing on "My Foolish Heart," "Body and Soul" and "My Romance" provide album highlights.
There's a touch of samba about the Johnny Mandel/Paul Francis Webster tune "The Shadow of Your Smile whereas the interpretation of "Some Day My Prince Will Come" is reminiscent of trumpeter Miles Davis
1961 version. A large part of the success of this session is due to the chemistry of Hamilton's quartet, but that's taking nothing away from McIntyre, who leaves an indelible stamp on the Irish jazz scene with his wonderful playing on some of his favorite tunes.
John Leighton Dramatic Life
Pianist/composer John Leighton's debut above all showcases his notable talents as a composer and one of the many strengths of Dramatic Life
is the variety in the music, which draws from jazz, soul, the singer-songwriter tradition and the poetry of 19th century English poet John Keats. Leighton's pianistic skills take a back seat for most of the session, instead allowing vocalist Anna Stott to bask in the spotlight. Stott is the focal point of the music and impresses with her subtly dynamic range and soulful delivery.