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Charlie Rhyner: The First Second

Dan Bilawsky By

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An artist's intentions are often cemented within the first second of a journey, but a vision can only be developed and measured in the music's passing time. For Westchester-based guitarist Charlie Rhyner, those initial aims often present with a penetrative purpose and a strong understanding of the leverage that a groove, be it solid or morphing, can hold over a given song's success. As his compositions develop, those first impressions prove true while a sense of warmth, a taste of risk and touch of jocularity further the picture.

Whether moving in step with his trio mates, taking the spotlight as a soloist, or sharing space with guest saxophonist Imraan Khan, Rhyner proves to be in his element. From the curious and cool-headed "Jethiya" opener through to the flowing-turned-rocking "Black Daniels" sendoff, Rhyner revels in the art of the unexpected. And as that closer makes clear, he has the ability to both pacify and confound in a single frame.

Originals make up the bulk of this program, with the aforementioned tunes and four others making deep impressions. Rhyner's "Golden Cuffs" hints at a countrified quality while highlighting the ductile properties of his trio with bassist Mike Roninson and drummer Graciliano Zambonin; The blues-indebted "Pat's Prints" both honors and adapts a tried-and-true form, solidly and playfully swinging all the while; the all-too-brief "Boozy Dough" brings an acoustic purity and lovable lightness of being into direct contact with fractured elements; and "Handsome & Healthy" presents a series of explicit ideas grafted onto a steadily evolving arc.

Through those compositions, Rhyner manages to paint himself and his friends as a set with jazz grounding, slight experimentalist tendencies, and a rock-bolstered heart. The three covers that make the cut—a somewhat ominous take on Miles Davis' "Nardis," a bounding trip through Wayne Shorter's "JuJu," and a largely straightforward stroll through Tom Petty's "Breakdown," with an appearance from Dan Schnapp on Fender Rhodes—just serve to confirm that fact. Rhyner's music has a real draw from the start, but it's only in seeing these songs through that the full weight of his work can be appreciated.

Track Listing: Jethiya; Golden Cuffs; Pat's Prints; Nardis; Boozy Dough; Juju; Breakdown; Handsome & Healthy; Black Daniels.

Personnel: Charlie Rhyner: guitar; Mike Roninson: bass; Graciliano Zambonin: drums; Imraan Khan: alto saxophone (1, 3, 9); Dan Schnapp: Fender Rhodes (7).

Title: The First Second | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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