Although he has been a working pro on the New York scene for the past 25 years, guitarist James Silberstein had been flying somewhat under the radar . . . until now. An accomplished player who combines the warm tone and remarkably fluid single note burn of a Pat Martino, Tal Farlow or Joe Diorio with a capacity for harmonic sophistication, uncommon lyricism and a penchant for alluring bossa novas, Silberstein crafts an invigorating and appealing collection of standards and originals on Song for Micaela, his long overdue debut as a leader. Along for the ride are the guitarist's core working rhythm section of bassist/producer Tony Cimorosi and drummer Vince Cherico as well as such stellar guests as trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Harvie S and vocalist Carla Cook. Together these seasoned jazz artists swing with authority while engaging in some fiery interplay along the way.
Silberstein and crew open the collection in easy mid-tempo mode on James' original, Red Carpet. Cimorosi's steady walking bass lines and Cherico's light, interactive touch provide a solidly swinging foundation for potent solos by both Brecker and Silberstein on this jaunty quartet number. Carla Cook then unveils her hauntingly beautiful delivery on a poignant reading of the gorgeous Sergio Mendes ballad So Many Stars, which also features nimble, engaging solos from guitar and piano. Silberstein burns a blue streak on Horace Silver's Nica's Dream, a spirited post-bop romp that also features Brecker and Alexander on the frontline and is fueled by the surging rhythm tandem of bassist Harvie S and drummer Cherico. The easy grooving blues Aquas is Silberstein's answer to Horace Silver-Bobby Timmons soul-jazz anthems like Juicy Lucy and Dat Dere, while House Party is a funk-fueled throw-down with the full ensemble featuring some sizzling solo contributions from Brecker, Silberstein, Alexander and Barth on Fender Rhodes electric piano.