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Straight-ahead guitar from a veteran will do it every time. Ed Cherry's latest recording brings back the spirit of the jazz organ combo. Influences such as Grant Green and Wes Montgomery make themselves known right away. Cherry also credits Sonny Sharrock and Jimi Hendrix among his influences. His "Woo!/Sharrock" rocks the joint in tribute, with high-energy, electronic power. The guitarist settles into a powerful groove and seems to have fun ripping one way and the next. Partners Joe Ford and Lonnie Smith share the solo spots with Cherry. From a funky James Brown scene on "Joe's Thing," to the laid-back blues of "Top Hat," the quartet digs deeply into different recollections. Singer Laird Jackson, with a smoky, alto voice, adds two lovely ballads. Her appearance serves to reinforce the album's contemporary swing element.
Ed Cherry's experience includes 14 years with Dizzy Gillespie. His mainstream chops underscore that period and run much earlier, through Cherry's early listening tastes. But, the guitarist also grew up listening to a funkier, more adventuresome array. Hence, his well-rounded program. By paying his respects to all the spirits, the guitarist has created a session that everyone can enjoy.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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