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What do you get when you combine a million-dollar feel, sterling technique, clear-eared chording, warm and sophisticated single-note lines and impeccable taste? Graham Dechter, of course. As a longtime member of The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and first-call sideman for the West Coast elite, Dechter has earned his place on the scene. And with his first two albumsRight On Time (Capri, 2009) and Takin' It There (Capri, 2012)he made an extremely convincing case out front. Not surprisingly, this third date merely ups the attraction factor surrounding his work.
Merging a sea of inspirations into a sound all his own, Dechter delivers a program focused on originals that's high in charm. And with his Clayton-Hamilton rhythm mates by his side again, all is right as things roll along. Opening on the blues-based "Orange Coals," Dechter, pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton swing right out of the gate. "Reference," ripe with sly riffs in the margins and strong solo work at the core, offers a different kind of heat, and the arresting "Major Influence" counters with a moonlit cool. By the time Dechter and company finish up the first half of the album with "Moonithology," a light-touch swinger influenced by everybody from saxophonist Charlie Parker to pianist George Shearing to electro art-pop duo KNOWER, they've already made a strong and permanent impression.
While Dechter's playing bears the hallmarks of jazz giants like Wes Montgomery, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and Grant Green, he's artfully integrated those influences, and plenty of others beyond his own instrument, in creating his own signature as both a performer and composer. That's apparent on the aforementioned original material and equally clear on the back half of the program where the quartet delivers a Jazz Messengers-worthy shuffle in the form of "Minor Influence," drops a lone cover in the form of a dreamy and capacious "Pure Imagination," nods to the High Priest of Bop on "Bent on Monk" and rockets away with precision and fire on "Billy's Dilemma." A sum of his influences yet a step removed as his own man, Graham Dechter is the real dynamic deal.
Orange Coals; Reference; Major Influence; Moonithology; Minor Influence; Pure Imagination; Bent on Monk; Billy's Dilemma.