Michael Anthony Natural Instincts Trio: Nostalgia

Jack Bowers By

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Guitarist Michael Anthony, whose warm salute to mentor and friend Howard Roberts, Recollections, was reviewed here in June, recorded another tribute album seven years earlier (2007), this one dedicated to another longtime friend and colleague, the late Al Viola, who passed away in February of that year. Anthony says he was fortunate to have met Roberts and Viola during his formative years on the West Coast, forming friendships that helped point him toward a long and successful career as a jazz guitarist and Hollywood studio musician.

As was the case on Recollections, Anthony's choice of material and sidemen on Nostalgia is unerring. His teammates here are bassist David Parlato and drummer Andrew Poling who with Anthony comprise the Natural Instincts Trio. They are based in Anthony's present home state, New Mexico, as are the members of his more recent First Take Trio (Michael Glynn, bass; Cal Haines, drums), which produced Recollections. As on that enterprise, Anthony doesn't put all his eggs in one basket, neatly blending seven familiar standards with jazz evergreens by Charles Mingus ("Nostalgia in Times Square"), Frank Rosolino ("Blue Daniel"), Pete Jolly ("Little Bird"), Charlie Parker / Dizzy Gillespie ("Anthropology"), the irrepressible "Mambo Inn" and Bobbie Gentry's pop hit, "Ode to Billy Joe" (on which organist Sid Fendley makes it a foursome).

Anthony's style is similarly inclusive, combining supple single-note runs with assertive chordal phrases reminiscent of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow and other masters of bop-based guitar. While there's nothing here that hasn't been heard before, Anthony's vocabulary is always eloquent and tasteful, and he clearly belongs in the top rank among contemporary guitarists. Parlato and Poling, who solo handily whenever called upon, are splendid companions, working hard to bolster Anthony's nimble ad libs and help make the trio a smooth-running vehicle. Whether that can be ascribed to preparation, experience or Natural Instincts, it succeeds on every level, and Nostalgia is yet another laudable outing for Anthony and his colleagues.

Track Listing: Nostalgia in Times Square; Besame Mucho; Dearly Beloved; The Touch of Your Lips; Avalon; Blue Daniel; Little Bird; Ode to Billy Joe; Anthropology; Lover; Mambo Inn; But Beautiful; Soon.

Personnel: Michael Anthony: guitar; David Parlato: bass; Andrew Poling: drums; Sid Fendley: organ (8).

Title: Nostalgia | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Lone Guitar Records

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