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.
On a burning up-tempo trio rendition of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale," Silberstein pulls out all the stops and unleashes one of his most impressive, fleet-fingered solos on the collection. His combination of impeccable articulation, fluent lines and sheer blazing speed here is yet more evidence of the guitarist's infinite capacity to burn. Elsewhere, he renders Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean" as an alluring bossa-samba in a pared down trio setting, then brings back Alexander for a buoyant, up-tempo take on Anthony Newley's signature piece, "Who Can I Turn To," which serves as a perfect vehicle to showcase the young tenor titan's ability to blow through the changes with relentless drive and a robust, deep tone. Silberstein adds another flawlessly facile single note solo here that is firmly in the swinging tradition of jazz guitar elders like Chuck Wayne, Bucky Pizzarelli and Mundell Lowe.