Guitarist Dave Askren leads a stellar quartet on Some Other Things through a program of modern mainstream jazz originals and one standard. He provides a comfortable ambience, with several layers of harmony all wrapped up in nine lyrical melodies. Typically, the quartet drives straight ahead: forceful to some extent, but still laid-back enough to let the session swing enjoyably.
Askren's guitar voice combines a smooth texture with fluid technique. He and saxophonist Jeff Benedict represent a cool side of jazz that some folks like to refer to as the West Coast sound. Their combined voices grow velvety when Benedict picks up the tenor. There's a special alliance between the two instrumental timbres that grows on you right away. Askren's chording and overlapping harmonies bring a lovely texture to each selection.
Benedict plays soprano on "Tres Chic (also indicated as "Trey Chic ), which saunters gracefully in three. The timbre of his horn clashes with the others, creating a rift. Mike Flick's acoustic bass solo and Askren's guitar feature prove emphatically plush compared to Benedict's high and dry soprano. He employs the soprano saxophone for "The Song is You and "Ella's Dance, reinforcing the idea that the instrument casts a cold shadow except when in the hands of a special few.
More or Less features some fine tenor/guitar blowing that bubbles with the blues. "Dit Dat shuffles comfortably with a contemporary air and a forward-looking promise. Both selections allow the quartet plenty of room to express freely. The high point of the album comes with "Some Other Things, which somewhat recalls the eloquence of another lovely jazz waltz, "My Favorite Things. Here, tenor saxophone and guitar form a cohesive union for exploration and creative soloing. Askren stretches out and never looks back.
The leader's guitar speaks with clarion authority and a fresh attack that remains loose and confident. His sound takes hold and drives this enjoyable, personable session.
P.M.; Tres Chic; Translucent; Harry Haller; Some Other Things; More Or Less; The Song Is You; Dit Dat; Ella's Dance.
Dave Askren: guitar; Jeff Benedict: tenor & soprano saxophone; Mike Flick: bass; Jon Nathan: drums.
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