Guitarist Frode Kjekstad is a Norwegian who makes himself at home in the Big Apple on this splendid album with New York companions Dr. Lonnie Smith, Byron Landham, and special guest Eric Alexander. To me, there are few musical alliances more pleasing than a guitar/organ/drums trio that sounds terrific and swings like a metronome, as this one does. If there's anything that could enrich the partnership, that would certainly include inviting an eloquent and powerful tenor saxophonist such as Alexander to sit in, which Kjekstad does on four numbersStanley Turrentine's bluesy "Sugar and three of his svelte original compositions, "Prospect Park S.W., "Brooklyn Bound and "Over Easy.
Kjekstad has impressive chops and a warm, resonant sound, which Smith's Hammond B-3 complements superbly, while Landham keeps perceptive and tasteful time. Alexander fits in snugly on his cameos, broadening the trio's horizons while adding spice to the basic recipe. As for role models, Kjekstad drops a broad hint with the inclusion of Wes Montgomery's ambling "Road Song, on which he pays homage to Wes's groundbreaking style. Rounding out the admirable program are the standards "The Way You Look Tonight, "Secret Love, "Laura and of course, "Autumn in New York. I was especially charmed by the swaying, Jobim-like treatment of "Secret Love, which embodies typically persuasive solos by Kjekstad and Smith.
There's nothing Scandinavian about this refreshing studio date save for the leader's name. You may not be able to pronounce it, but if you appreciate special talent that's all you need consider. Leave the rest to Kjekstad and Company, whose music speaks emphatically for itself.
Track Listing: The Way You Look Tonight; Sugar; Autumn in New York; Prospect Park S.W.; Secret Love;
Brooklyn Bound; Laura; Road Song; Over Easy. (51:22)
Personnel: Frode Kjekstad, guitar; Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hammond B-3 organ; Eric Alexander (2,4,6,9),
tenor sax; Byron Landham, drums.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.