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Jim Josselyn: Shape Shifter

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Jim Josselyn: Shape Shifter
Keith Richards once said if "you don't know the blues, there's no point in picking up the guitar." This is certainly true about rock, but it could just as easily apply to jazz. Many of the great jazz guitarists have roots in the blues, and Jim Josselyn is no exception. His album Shape Shifter offers a tasty serving of jazz seasoned with the blues.

Josselyn started playing guitar when he was young, but he took his musical training to the next level when he entered his local community college where he majored in music. He continued his studies, later earning a Master's degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music.

Josselyn's reputation as a guitarist is well-established. Along with his own recordings, he is also an accomplished composer whose work has appeared on numerous television and movie soundtracks. He is the director of The School of Music and Drama in Little Silver, New Jersey, and he has written extensively about jazz in numerous publications, including All About Jazz.

Shape Shifter features seven songs, all of which are originals with the exception of John Coltrane's "Equinox." Josselyn is joined by an excellent group of musicians, including Brian Charette on organ, Scott Avidon on saxophone, Caleb Rumley on trombone, James Gibbs on trumpet, and Noel Sagerman on drums.

The title track to Shape Shifter sets the album's overall tone. Josselyn came up with an idea while practicing, and as he puts it, "I heard this sound in a blues context." What he envisioned, though, was different from a standard blues. Rather than following conventional blues phrasing, he tried a different approach. Also, when he changed the chords, he maintained a static bass note. From there, he was able to build a melody around the chord structure.

The compositions range from the modal jazz sound of "Shape Shifter" and the driving groove of "Iris" to the minor blues feel of "Equinox." Songs such as "Heads Up" and "Waltz for a Rainy Day" highlight Caleb Rumley's talent as an arranger. The songs provide a canvas for improvisation, and all of the players are in top form.

As a guitarist, Josselyn has an inventive and melodic style. While his playing is totally unique, there are some hints of his influences as well. There are bluesy touches of players like Grant Green and Kenny Burrell, but there's also the fluidity of someone like Pat Martino as well.

There is an element of coolness that permeates Shape Shifter, and it warrants repeated listening. The level of musicianship is impressive, and this is an album many aspiring jazz players might easily be tempted to copy licks from.

Track Listing

Shape Shifter; Clarisse; Waltz for a Rainy Day; Heads Up; Never and Again; Iris; Equinox

Personnel

Brian Charette
organ, Hammond B3
Scott Avidon
saxophone, tenor
Caleb Rumley
trombone
James Gibbs
trumpet

Album information

Title: Shape Shifter | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced

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