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Jake Langley: Movin' & Groovin'

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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It would be wholly inappropriate to say that guitarist Jake Langley "as arrived." In fact, he arrived a long time ago and makes up one third of one of two working bands that Hammond B3 master, Joey DeFrancesco takes on the road. On Movin' & Groovin' DeFrancesco and drummer, Byron Landham return the favor. It is a truly joyful spirit union for the three musicians. Langley believes that during the recording, the spirit of Hammond B3 master, Jimmy Smith moved and grooved with the three musicians, almost like a muse. This is a legend that is easy to subscribe to. After all, Smith bequeathed his beloved instrument to DeFrancesco and to this day the disciple has never disappointed the master.

But here the spotlight is assuredly on Jake Langley. There was a time when he, like many Canadian musicians of his age, was little known outside Canada. Now he tours some 200 days a year, many of these with DeFrancesco and is less known—certainly less heard—in Canada. Fortunately, producer Peter Cardinali has ensured that many an artist has a voice here in Canada. This is his second production for Langley, the first to be available through a distribution arrangement with Ryko in the US. And it is just as well...

Jake Langley is in fine form right from the first curved notes of Bobby Timmons' "Dis Here." There is something about Langley that few guitarists today are able to serve up, and that is, the ability to make their instruments sing like human voices. His, however, is distinct, throaty and soaring, whether he is playing single note lines, octaves or chords. The result is like having a fourth member in the band: a vocalist. This lesser-known Timmons' classic is delivered in inimitable style: racy, bluesy with robust machismo.

Joey DeFrancesco, a class act, is on top of his game, as always. It appears that his instrument—the Hammond B3—is an umbilical extension of him, and that his fingers have minds of their own. He is especially exquisite on Duke Pearson's "Jeanine," with its classic, 'weeping' melodic line. No harm then if the trio favors Pearson with another chart of "Minor League," with its racy, chopped, near-Cubist melody, which textures both Langley and DeFrancesco paint with wonderful colors. Langley also brought two blues charts to the gig. "Take it Easy" is the heavier, more moving track of the two, Langley and DeFrancesco sounding noirish throughout.

Byron Landham and Langley have a rollicking time on "Minor League" as they exchange fours and it is one of the few times that one notices that Landham is, in fact, there at all. So wonderful a listener and steady a cohort is he throughout the gig. Not generally known for flash, Landham is a melodic percussionist who holds his line with classic grace and sophistication and leaves his rhythmic imprint on this fine set, together with Joey DeFrancesco and of course, the leader, Jake Langley.

Track Listing: Dis Here; Jeanine; Who Can I Turn To; Uptown; Canadian Sunset; Jingles; Take It Easy; Minor League; Crazy She Calls Me.

Personnel: Jake Langley: guitar; Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B3; Byron Landham: drums.

Title: Movin' & Groovin' | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Alma Records


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