As a first-call support artist, you must be an adaptable and, of course, knowledgeable player, possessing a broad musical vernacular. Guitarist Mike Clinco transmits these attributes on his 2009 release, featuring a top-flight ensemble of proven jazz veterans. It's easy to discern why Clinco has been summoned to perform with vocalists Bobby McFerrin and Natalie Cole amid sessions with the late operatic star, Luciano Pavarotti.
Sparked by radiant horn choruses atop the guitarist's largely melodic original compositions, the entire program looms as an exercise in good taste. Clinco often caresses a given theme via animated single note licks and a fluid delivery. His lines are not only breezy, but project a forceful mode of attack. Saxophonist Bob Sheppard and flugelhornist Walt Fowler serve as strong foils for the leader as they interweave storylines and render expressive solos.
Clinco steps on the distortion pedal during "X Cue Says," where Sheppard's edgy phrasings on tenor sax portray a rather cheery gait, abetted by perky choruses and crisp accents. With other pieces, the band executes circular motifs, and spunky jazz waltz grooves, chock full of harmonious textures. In addition, Clinco uses an acoustic guitar on the sublime piece titled "Charade," composed by his former employer Henry Mancini.
The album is not about technical gymnastics. Clinco and his bandmates rev it up in spots, but the improvisational aspects are designed around various motifs and theme-building exercises. The release is a highly listenable gala, driven by the fact that Clinco makes his point sans glitter, glitz or excruciatingly long solos.
Track Listing: Bookends; Sonship; Neon; X Cue Says; Daystream; Amalgam; Beaten Paths; Charade; The Rest Will Follow.
Personnel: Mike Clinco: guitar; Bob Sheppard: woodwinds; Walt Fowler: flugelhorn; Darek Oleszkiewicz: acoustic bass; Jimmy Johnson: electric bass; Jimmy Branly: drums, percussion.
There is a freedom and a sense of exhilaration in Jazz that is not found in any other music. Jazz is about finding freedom and a personal voice within a structure, and that is what
appeals to me most. I had a late start in jazz.
I was first exposed to jazz without any formal training by watching videos of Bill Evans, Chick Corea and Thelonious Monk in my 20's.
Later, I met Ahmad Jamal, Kenny Werner, Chick Corea, Martial Solal, Bernard Maury, Fred Hersh, Barry Harris, among many other musicians over the years.
The first jazz record I
bought was Keith Jarrett, The Melody at Night, with You and it is still one of the solo piano masterpiece in my view.
My advice to new listeners... Just enjoy it!
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