In terms of its history and current crop of talented musicians, Pittsburgh is a stellar music city that somehow always gets overlooked when considering the USA's major music centers. A world-class guitarist, comfortable in both jazz and popular realms, John Shannon cut his teeth in high school working with such Pittsburgh luminaries as Eric Kloss and Dwayne Dolphin. During his time spent at Berklee College of Music, Shannon had the good fortune of studying with icons such as Mick Goodrick and Hal Crook. Following a heady period spent in New York, the guitarist returned to Pittsburgh, where he maintains a healthy performance schedule as well as serving as the music director for the city's premier jazz club, Con Alma.
During his time spent at Berklee, Shannon formed the trio Waking Vision. The group currently includes fellow Berklee alumni bassist Peter Slavov and drummer Martin Valihora. The bassist is a Bulgarian native who currently calls New York home and boasts a resume which includes time spent with Joe Lovano and Alfredo Rodriguez. As for Valihora, the Slovakian drummer also spent time at Berklee as well as working with Shannon while the pair were a part of Hiromi's regular group.
Having penned the entire program of ten pieces, Shannon clearly finds inspiration in the work of fellow guitarist Pat Metheny. The opening track "Cardinal" sets up an arpeggiated opening riff which immediately catches the attention. Up next, the title track hints at the great Marc Johnson album, The Sound of Summer Running. It is the sound of wide open spaces with bowed bass and splashy cymbals. "Raindance" also operates in this galaxy, with spry and engaging interplay between Shannon and Valihora.
Another fellow Berklee pal, pianist Ruslan Sirota is added on two numbers, "Mountains of the Heart" and "Until Now." The former is a lilting number which finds Shannon gently caressing the opening line before the piano doubles the melody, making for a rich tapestry of sound. The latter piece is a tender set closer which boasts superb chemistry between Shannon and Sirota, along with a salient bass solo from Slavov.
Other highlights include the radiant "Inner Light," a fetching melody which boasts Shannon at his best, using various sounds and effects. Valihora also gets a chance to shine over a closing vamp near the end. A catchy "Diamond" struts its stuff via a drum backbeat and Shannon's angular guitar riffs, while "Auspicious" could be a lost track from Metheny's New Chattaqua.
Make no mistake, the reference points mentioned here should not be taken as a way to suggest that Shannon is in any way derivative. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The guitarist has managed to find a unique niche for himself within the guitar trio format, one that should easily appeal to fans of many musical persuasions.
Cardinal; The Breathing Earth; Inner Light; Raindance; Mountains of the Heart; Diamond; Auspicious; Peaceful
Highway; Remembering; Until Now.
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