Hailing from St. Petersburg, FL, guitarist Nate Najar unveils his third full length recording for the Candid Records label on the simply-titled This Is Nate Najar where he touches on the music of Chick Corea and Antonio Carlos Jobim as well as delivering a straight jazz sound with several cover tunes and a couple of originals. A fingerstyle guitarist on the acoustic classical guitar, Najar is one of the few in the modern jazz genre utilizing the nylon-string guitar employing a right-hand technique allowing him to play single-string lines or strums unlike most conventional guitarists.
Early influences on Najar's were such icons as Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt but, having perhaps the primary impact on his playing style was, the great Charlie Byrd. This is quite evident throughout this album as you can almost pick up certain riffs that seem designed to channel Byrd's distinctive sound. Helping the guitarist on this project are Duke Ellington bassist John Lamb, UK drummer Matt Home and St. Pete local trumpeter James Suggs.
The music begins with Najar strumming the unamplified guitar in the introduction to Corea's "500 Miles High," a journey that takes off with Suggs trumpet phrases, Lamb's delicate bass lines and features more of the leader's handy work. Offering splendid finger play on the strings, the original "What Would Ola Mae Do?" displays a mid-tempo groove with the trumpeter on the muted horn to make it interesting. The Corea influence emerges again on "Chick's Tune" and the finale "Crystal Silence" while Najar's penchant for the Brazilian flair comes across with a stylish rendition of Jobim's famous "Insensatez" and an extended version of "O Morro Nao Tem Vez (Favela)."
The soft spot of the album goes to the warm Suggs original "But Oh, what love!" where the trumpeter plays softly as the leader executes intricate chords on a beautiful and sensitive love ballad setting the stage for Harry Edison's humbling down tempo "Centerpiece" rounding out a varied and creative ten-piece repertoire that's quite engaging. Not yet familiar with this musician, This Is Nate Najar will provide one with an exciting introduction to one of the finest classical guitarist in the business today on a set of music that swings lightly with a touch of class.
Track Listing: 500 Miles High; What Would Ola Mae Do?; Sidewalks of New York; Prelude In E Minor (Op.28 No, 4); Insensatez (How Insensitive); Chick's Tune; But Oh, what Love!; Centerpiece; O Morro Nao Tem Vez (Favela); Crystal Silence.
Personnel: Nate Najar: unamplified guitar; James Suggs: trumpet; John Lamb: bass; Matt Home: drums; Mark Feinmann: drums (5); Ella Fredrickson: cello (5).
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