What is it about Philadelphia boxers and musicians? And I'm not talking about Rocky Balboa, he's fictional, rather Joe Frazier and Bernard Hopkins. No one in their right mind would get in the ring with Sonny Liston. Same with musicians, some of the baddest players one could find in late night "cutting contests were Joe Venuti, Philly Joe Jones, Grover Washington Jr. and, while not born in Philly, both Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane can be claimed as sons.
Another Philly musician, Jimmy Bruno has ruled the city for the past twenty years, scorching guitar lines whenever and seemingly wherever. After a stint with Buddy Rich's band, he settled back in Philadelphia and began a series of recording for Concord records. Where his previous output focused on his burning chops, Maplewood Avenue strives for a more visceral yet laid-back sound.
Bruno's trio, sans piano and drums, is a stripped-down sound featuring vibraphonist Tony Miceli and bassist Jeff Pedras. Recorded in a very old-school style as a live trio, with no effects or overdubs, the sound delivers a mid-1960s Prestige or Blue Note feel.
With the composing credits spread out between the trio members, the quiet swing of Bruno's title track gives way to Pedras' "Easton Street Bossa, a bossa nova that features Miceli's twinkling vibes backed by the very gentle playing of Bruno and Pedras. Rare is it for these three to turn to the frenetic. Their intensity is played out in a chamber swing manner. It is only on the aptly named "Jimmy's House that the trio favors speed over swing, and even this track holds something back, in a Tal Farlow/Barney Kessel kind of way.
The trio saunters a groovy blues, "She's A Fox, and strolls the lovely ballad "Song For Meg before they take on Johann Sebastian Bach's intricate "Bach Sonata Trio as the signature piece of the recording.
Maplewood Avenue; Easton Street Bossa; PA Turnpike; Route 611; Upstairs For Coffee; Song For Meg; Jimmy
Jimmy Bruno: guitar; Tony Miceli: vibraphone; Jeff Pedras: bass.