The guitars on this album are from the faculty of Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA backed by fellow faculty collegues. Headed by John Baboian, the six guitarists who comprise The Be-Bop Guitars, share a play list of jazz standards, a couple of standards and three originals.
The playing follows bop traditions established by the likes of Lennie Tristano disciple Billy Bauer, the fluid bop oriented style of Tal Farlow and others who played in the bop tradition viz., Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Pat Martino. There is no breakthrough here, nor was any apparently intended. What is presented is solid, imaginative playing within the traditions of this jazz genre using a variety of supporting instrumentation that make this album work. Victor Mendoza's vibes work hand in mallet with John Marasco's guitar on Sonny Rollins archetypal anthem from the bop movement, "Doxy". Almost seven minutes of pure Bop, this is an album highlight. There's a touch of Kenny Burrell blues "God Bless the Child" as John Baboian's solo is supported by a guitar choir of his compatriots. "Freddie the Freeloader" is enhanced by an almost Miles Davis like trumpet of Jerry Seeco. Another album topper is a haunting harmonized version of Wes Montgomery's solo on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams".
The CD isn't just instrumentals. The guitars back vocalist Maggi Scott tasteful vocalizing on Toots Thielemans "Bluesette", reminding us that in addition to being jazz's leading harmonica player, Thielemans is also one of its finer guitar players.
The play list, the arrangements and the performances reveal the considerable preparation taken to make this album. This was not a case of a bunch of guys who decided one day to throw together an album honoring bop guitarists. Musical Director Baboian and his friends have produced a fine album that is heartily endorsed.
Track Listing: Blues Update; Chuco; God Bless the Child; Old Devil Moon*; Seven Steps to Heaven; Seascape; Nostalgia in Times Square; Bluesette*; Freddie the Freeloader; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; Doxy; Berklee Shuffle
Personnel: John Baboian - Guitar/Musical Director; Garrison Fewell, John Marasco, Jack Pezanelli, John Wilkins - Guitar; Jerry Seeco - trumpet/Flute; Victor Mendoza - Vibes/Percussion; Ron Mahdi - Bass; Jon Hazilla - Drums; Maggi Scott - Vocals*
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.