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Mark Elf: Over The Airwaves

Glenn Astarita By

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Jazz guitarist Mark Elf celebrates jazz radio on the aptly titled, Over The Airwaves which coincides with his overall success as a jazz musician who is afforded the luxury of having his CDs played...”over the airwaves”. Yet reality dictates that Elf is a fine guitarist who possesses imposing technique and acute sensibilities or in ordinary terms, - The guy is a bona fide virtuoso!

Here, Elf is in fine form while receiving some exemplary assistance from the top-notch and thoroughly professional rhythm section of drummer Ralph Peterson and bassist Jay Leonhart. And as we might surmise, Peterson’s polyrhythmic soloing/fills and swinging drive only enhance Elf’s fleet-fingered attack and brisk movement; hence, Elf reaps huge dividends here as enough cannot be said of the excellent and highly esteemed Leonhart! The trio get out of the box in a flurry with the opener, “On at KLON” which are in fact the call letters for the well-known Los Angeles radio station. Throughout, Elf’s hollow body electric guitar rings a dark, sonorous tone as Elf swings hard in the traditional sense, atop Leonhart’s authoritative walking bass lines while Peterson, the motion poet provides the hard-hitting attack, yet remains skillfully unobtrusive. On “TGEG Blues”, Elf produces rapid bop-ish lines intermingled with bluesy phrasing while exhibiting his articulate picking and strumming skills and maintaining a high degree of finesse as a leader and soloist. Elf soars into the stratosphere with breakneck speed on the piece titled, “The Cookie Maker” as the band dabble in a bit of post-bop, contrasting Elf’s intricate patterns and sharp, fervent leads on Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”. The guitarist’s inventive polytonal voicings, complex picking, shrewd employment of harmonics and gently sweeping chord progressions come to the forefront on the standard, “Blue Moon” while he jabs and spars with Peterson on the Bossa-Nova piece, “Mr. Suave. Elf is technically masterful while – walking – the guitar through his solo performance of Gershwin’s “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off”.

Over the Airwaves features a hearty mix of standards and Elf original compositions as the ensemble work is near flawless yet besides his extremely impressive technical capabilities Elf possesses a flair for the dynamic, counterbalanced by his sensitivity and fertile jazz vocabulary! More importantly, Over the Airwaves is jazz entertainment at its stylish best! * * * * ½


Personnel:

Mark Elf; Guitar: Jay Leonhart; Bass: Raplh Peterson; Drums

Website: www.jenbayjazz.com

Title: Over The Airwaves | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Jen Bay Records


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