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R. J. Temple is a young Jazz musician, coming to Jazz guitar by way of first punk rock and then R&B. But you wouldn't know that he has such a varied background from listening to his cd. He sounds like he's been listening to Jazz guitarists since before he was born (he sounds like Jazz guitarists who were playing before he was born). Despite his youth, Temple makes very few of the mistakes common to novices: he trusts his writing, and his fellow musicians, to deliver the goods (with the exception of the occasional keyboard wash which does more to break the mood than make it). That trust is well founded, and well repaid.
Temple has the standard Jazz guitar sound: clean notes, played fluidly, with an abundance of swing and minimal sustain. Most of the tunes on this disc are catchy up-tempo numbers with a melody designed to get the listener humming. (All of the compositions are by Temple.) These give Temple ample room to demonstrate his not inconsiderable talents. He is a melodic improviser who seldom strays far from the theme. He sounds his best when the music is swinging. In part that's because the melodies are infectious enough to make the listener forget that Temple's preferred style has been around for years. On the ballads the listener has time to wonder what Temple is saying that's new. I'm not sure that he is saying anything new. Nor is it necessary for Jazz musicians to always break new ground; many of those who are able to make a successful living playing Jazz do so without ever breaking new ground. That's possible when you can make your instrument sing, and when you're playing music that's enjoyable to listen to. Temple does both of these on this entertaining debut.
Personnel: R. J. Temple: guitar; James Cammack: bass; Fred Rackstraw: electric piano, keyboards; Vernon Allison: drums.
Track Listing: The Return Of The Wolf, 21st Century Blues, Out Of The Falling Rain, Sweet Christine, Engangee, Jazzonia, Payin' Dues Blues, Dance Of The Maroons. Total time: 41:19.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.