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James Chirillo: Sultry Serenade

C. Michael Bailey By

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Move. James Chirillo debuts as a leader with a superb guitar jazz disc. As soon as I would like to compare Mr. Chirillo to, say, a Joe Pass, a Herb Ellis, or a Charlie Byrd, I would just as soon say he was a Teddy Wilson on guitar. Urbane, that is how I would describe James Chirillo. He is more Oscar Peterson than Art Tatum and more Gene Harris than either. Chops to spare, Chirillo wastes no notes. He is precise, like Basie and Miles. His recital here, with various sized groups is an exercise in elegant restraint. No death defying arpeggios, only clear, clean playing.

There are the usual standards. "When The Lights Are Low" and "Lush Life" are well played standard fare. "If I Only Had a Brain", to my knowledge only covered by Tuck Andress, is grandly executed here. It is definitely not the standards that are most interesting here. It is the classical pieces. One is a tone poem composed by John "Israel" Carisi shortly before his death. "Counterpoise" is a moody duet for trumpet and guitar with Carisi himself providing the trumpet. "Elend", a tome by the 20thCentury Zemlinski, adds more to the reputation of these classical capabilities.

Otherwise, this is a grand mainstream fare. Randy Sandke, a N-H regular, is on hand, adding his regular brand of panache and aplomb. As for Chirillo, he is superb, a talent awaiting the appropriate recognition. I will be voting for him as best jazz guitarist in the 2000 polls.


Track Listing: When The Lights Are Low; I Love You, Samantha; Sultry Serenade; Counterpoise #2; If I Only Had A Brain, Move; Elend; Can't We Be Friends; Bourbon; Lush Life; I'm Always Chasing Rainbows; Fancifree; Blues For Valerie. (Total Time: 71:57)

Personnel: James Chirillo: Guitar; Alan Simon: Piano; Greg Cohen: Bass; Dave Ratajczak: Drums, Percussion; Randy Sandke: Trumpet; Scott Robinson: Tenor Saxophone, Bass Saxophone; Vera Mara: Vocals; John Carisi: Trumpet.

Title: Sultry Serenade | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Columbia

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