After 20 years of gradually building his rep as a reliable and versatile sideman on the Orange County, California circuit, guitarist Matthew Von Doran is finally stepping out as a leader in his own right with In This Present Moment. Produced by Jimmy Haslip, bassist with the internationally renowned Yellowjackets, this debut outing from Von Doran finds the guitarist surrounded by a cast of jazz heavyweights including saxophonists Bob Mintzer and Bob Sheppard, drummers Peter Erskine, Terri Lyne Carrington, Gary Novak and Marcus Baylor, B-3 organist Larry Goldings, bassists James Genus and Haslip himself. An impressive showcase that highlights Von Doran's warm, inviting tone and accomplished six-string work in a variety of settings, In This Present Moment is a fitting introduction to this new face on the post-Metheny/post- Scofield guitar landscape.
"The record has a nice eclectic mix but it's not too all over the map," says Von Doran in addressing his own eclectic nature as a guitarist. From the hauntingly melodic opener "Balance" to the earthy N'awlins flavored funk of "Measure Once" to the fervently swinging "Critical Mass," sparked by the ace rhythm tandem of bassist Genus and drummer Baylor and featuring a killing tenor solo from Mintzer, Von Doran still covers a lot of bases stylistically on In This Present Moment, showcasing a fluid linear approach and rich chordal voicings along the way. Organist Goldings adds a thick B-3 cushion underneath the aptly-named "Swang," which is fueled by the briskly swinging, interactive pulse of Carrington on the kit and culminates in some heated trading between organ and guitar. That potent organ trio also appears on the breezy, Latin flavored "Z" and the more ethereal "Ex Nihilo."
Producer Haslip appears alongside his Yellowjackets bandmate Baylor on the challenging, post-boppish vehicle "Vanity Strikes," which also features a burning solo from vibist Roger Burn. Former Chick Corea Elektric Band drummer Gary Novak provides the slamming backbeat on the powerful groover "Cable." And for a radical change of pace, Von Doran also pulls out his 11-string nylon string fretless Godin guitar on the provocative "Trick," which is underscored by some adventurous interplay between bassist Olesczkiewicz and drummer Erskine. Von Doran closes the collection in poignant fashion with the melancholic acoustic guitar ballad "Somewhere Before," which features some sensitive brushwork from Erskine and is also highlighted by a beautifully expressive solo upright bass intro by Darek "Oles" Olesczkiewicz.
From opener to closer, there's not a weak link on In This Present Moment. It's a strong first statement for this guitar talent deserving of wider recognition.