336

Steve Cardenas: Panoramic

Phil DiPietro By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Cardenas has worked as a superb accompanist to classic groovers Eddie Harris and Jay McShann, classic modernists Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, and a newer breed of female vocalists, such as Kate McGarry, Rebecca Martin and even Miss Norah Jones. Unusually, he's best-known for work in ensembles that spin twin guitars, as a member of Motian's Electric Bebop Band (where he's split duties with Kurt Rosenwinkel and now, Ben Monder) and Joey Baron's "Killer Joey" (with Brad Shepik).

Release of this December 2002 session confirms that Cardenas has spent too much time flying under the radar of guitar and jazz aficionados. While he has drawn previous comparison in print to Metheny, the analogy is facile, concluded insofar as he uses a bit of reverb and, on balance, a clean tone.

The band features the in-demand talents of Larry Grenadier (Brad Mehldau), drummer Kenny Wolleson (Sex Mob), and for my money, jazz's saxman-to-watch, Tony Malaby. Steve Cardenas can write, too, as evidenced by the modernity and natural ebb and flow of the head of "Sights." Listen to Cardenas' linear conversation with the changes, over Grenadier's authoritative walking, then spacious, line, and hear that he belongs in the class of New York's (and therefore the world's) elite contemporary guitar men. Here, Malaby shows his casual mastery of the bop idiom, combining it with his distinctive tone changeups, confirming his consistent knack for knocking the dates he appears on up a full star in the ratings.

As befitting an employee of Mr. Motian, Steve Cardenas has done his time wrapping his head around the styles of the masters. In fact, he's worked so hard on Monk's compositions, he's done a book on them. This could be inferred upon hearing the effortlessness with which he negotiates the close-voiced counterpoint of "Introspection," interjecting elegant swing into the challenging head before linearly zipping through the solo changes, tossing in a pristine chord solo for good measure.

The set's funkiest and most accessible tracks are its first and last, a New Orleans shuffled cover of Charlie Parker's "Visa" and the funkified Latin root-fifth motions of "Salsita." The former has Cardenas spinning out sophisticated lines full of collapsing chromaticism and precise arpeggiations, Malaby blowing up a blues drenched storm. The 30 second head of "Salsita" ends in a pregnant pause, a catchy groove tune worthy of radio push that it won't get, but assuredly deserves. The bit of grittiness Cardenas throws into his tone is refreshing, as are the slightly dissonant clusters of chordal flavor added to the mix.

But perhaps Cardenas' greatest potential to reach a larger audience lies in the ballads, like his bossa gem "Isso Para Dizer" and the heady swirl of "D. Marie." This is where a Metheny comparison has credence, because the sheer melodicism of memorable melody in which these songs are soaked is on that poignant a plane, making them that universal in appeal.

For more info, visit Steve Cardenas and Fresh Sound Records on the web.


Track Listing: 1. Visa (Bird), 2. Sights,,3. Isso ? Para Dizer, 4. Just Like I pictured It, 5. Walkup, 6. Oriel, 7. Introspection (Monk), 8. D. Marie, 9. Salsita

Personnel: Steve Cardenas (guitar), Tony Malaby (saxophone), Larry Grenadier (bass), Kenny Wollesen (drums)

Title: Panoramic | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Blue Moon


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Extremophile" CD/LP/Track Review Extremophile
by John Eyles
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "My Picture" CD/LP/Track Review My Picture
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Landing" CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 19, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.