Los Angeles-based reed player David Sills has usually led a quintet with guitar, piano, bass and drums. Most of his recent performances have taken place in venues lacking a piano, so he began adding a second guitar. The change in instrumentation had a side benefit, opening up new musical possibilities and colors. Having two guitars in the rhythm section is common in rock music, but unusual in jazz, so it offers a novel listening experience (especially for jazz guitar fans).
The majority of the music was written by Sills and the guitarists. In fact the album opens with one each from the guitar section: Mike Scott (Sills' regular guitarist) contributed the serpentine "Minor Monk," which highlights both guitars and Stills' tenor saxophone harmonizing the head, before breaking into a series of solos (with the rhythm section alternating between the quirky rhythm of the theme and straight swing). Guest Larry Koonse wrote the cleverly titled "Sync Or Swim," which takes the soloists through a challenging set of chord changes. After the repeat of the head the arrangement fades out on solos traded between Sills and Koonse.
"Sonny's Side" is Sills' homage to Sonny Rollins. He also addresses the jazz tradition in the form of contrafacts (the bebop practice of writing new melodies over the chord changes of standard songs). "Foggy Daze" references "A Foggy Day" (and includes a memorable three-way conversation between guitars and tenor), while "Mellow Stone" is based on "In A Mellow Tone." Alan Broadbent's bossa nova "Quiet Is The Star" finds Scott on acoustic rhythm guitar, with Koonse's electric guitar sharing the melody with Sills' alto flute, as well as playing a memorable solo.
Miles Davis' "Nardis" is another alto flute feature, also offering solo space for Scott's acoustic guitar solo, as well as a notable solo turn from double bassist Blake White. "Jones' Tones" finds him trading solos with drummer Tim Pleasant. Closer "Interplay" is an especially appropriate Bill Evans cover, as the original recording included guitarist Jim Hall. Lots of good playing here, in a warm, swinging setting.
Minor Monk; Sync Or Swim; Sonny's Side; Quiet Is The Star; Lover Man; Foggy Daze; Mellow Stone; Nardis; Jones' Tones; All The Little Things; Outside Corner; Interplay.
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