Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg has gained a lot of visibility through his sideman work with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, but his talents are occasionally downplayed in that role. When left to fend for himself, as on this eight song program, the full breadth and depth of his artistry is revealed. Kreisberg wanted to follow up his gentle, standards-only Night Songs (Criss Cross, 2009) with a more potent musical brew, and Shadowless easily fits the bill.
Kreisberg kicks things off with a rhythmic maze ("Twenty One") that cools off for a mid-track solo from saxophonist Will Vinson. Both Kreisberg and Vinson expertly navigate the head together and prove to be a good match as front line partners throughout the album. The follow-up track, "Stir The Shadows," provides the first glimpse of Kreisberg's shape-shifting abilities. His guitar can sound more like a synthesizer than a six-string axe here, and he continues to defy aural expectations as he delivers controlled edginess ("Zembékiko"), woozy-meets-ethereal gauze ("Long Like A Mercury Day"), near flute-like lines ("Defying Gravity") and a variety of other sounds through his instrument. Kreisberg even comes through with several different sounds, from coarse chords to liquid lines, on "The Common Climb."
The guitarist is never content to dwell in one general area, so he touches on hyper funk ("Stir The Stars"), atmospheric openings ("Long, Like A Mercury Day") and reflective journeys ("Defying Gravity"), but he also likes to play with evolving rhythmic shapes. "The Common Climb" is carried forward by a NOLA-ish snare drum groove when the song takes off, but it shifts toward funkier territory and eventually arrives in a raunchier, dirty hi-hat driven environment. The lone standard on the programGeorge Gershwin's "Nice Work If You Can Get It"shifts back and forth between a loping feel and a driving tempo, and "Zembékiko"based on traditional Greek melodiesbookends a full-on, up-tempo swing section with a slower, more restrained groove that perfectly supports Kreisberg's exotic lines.
Whether Kreisberg is defying gravity on the track of the same name, or stirring things up in a more turbulent manner with his crack team of musicians, his original voice is always steering the music from the helm on Shadowless.
Twenty One; Stir The Stars; Shadowless; Zembékiko; Long, Like A Mercury Day; The Common Climb; Defying Gravity; Nice Work If You Can Get It.
Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar; Will Vinson: saxophone; Henry Hey: piano; Matt Penman: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.
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