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Ryan Mackstaller proves two things on Nice Day For A Swim : he has sound technique, and he can write a pretty good tune. The guitarist spins lines that fall nice and easy, with some octave runs adding bonus points to his ruminations. The mood here is largely mellow and laid back. He does open up a bit with the comparatively upbeat “So What”, and the Latin bounce of “No Bailamos” provides a balmy comfort. The latter is catchy and Mackstaller spins delightful circles of melodic improvisation.
On almost all the tracks, the drums are recorded upfront and vie with the guitar, a trait that proves distracting. The extended “So You’re Leaving” proves a welcome exception. The arrangement leaves room and scope for Kolton to have his say, digging in with passion in to the old world charm of the melody while Mackstaller expands his vocabulary, bending and stretching notes. The one non-original track is Dave Douglas’s “Sam Hill”, perfect room for Mackstaller to probe and then invent his own intricacies.
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.