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Thought Lines is a perfect title for this leader debut from Maryland-based guitarist Steve Herberman, since his guitar lines seem to flow as naturally as thought. This CD was a welcome companion on my recent road trip after a winter storm, perfectly suiting that contemplative, long-drive mood, with enough spark and swing to keep me chugging along. There's a gentleness to Herberman's playing that matched the snow-covered forests I was passing, but there's also plenty of groove in there too. His decision not to use a pick warms his sound and makes it more organic, while his use of the extra bass string expands and deepens his tone.
Herberman's solos are terrific: uncluttered and meaningful, they command attention - especially "I Wish I KNew" and his own "Scurryin'." This leader is generous with the spotlight, and his bandmates supply some wonderful moments, like Bruce Swain's satiny tenor solos and Dominic Smith's hand-drumming on the playful "Nobody Else But Me." Charlie Christian's "A Smooth One" is the ultimate truth in packaging, the quartet swings like mad on "Jeannine" and "Scurryin'," and there's a splendid version of "Laura" with just bass and guitar.
Thought Lines offers a varied mix of mood and approach, all tasteful and direct, showcasing Herberman's compositional gifts on four tracks. For me, one sure sign of writing talent is when I can't get a new melody out of my head. Weeks after hearing it, the intriguing title track is still in there, and I expect this CD will also remain in my player for a long time.
Track Listing: I Wish I Knew, Thought Lines, Nobody Else but Me, A Smooth One, Criss
Cross, Laura, Scurryin', Scooter's Blues, Jeannine, Extended Cruise,
Personnel: Steve Herberman (guitar, composer), Bruce Swaim (tenor sax), Victor
Dvoskin (bass), Dominic Smith (drums)
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.