Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jim Mullen Reunion Quartet - String Theory (Diving Duck Recordings, 2012)

Jim Mullen is a jazz guitarist who has been releasing consistently enjoyable albums and working on collaborative projects for several decades. This album features Mullen with a swinging piano trio consisting of Gareth Williams on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Gary Husband on drums. They make for a fine match and work through a wide variety of mainstream originals and cover songs. “Over the Hills and Far Away” develops really strong uptempo quartet swing. Mullen solos impeccably as the rippling piano trio keeps things moving briskly forward. Shifting downward to a confident medium tempo, “Love is Real” develops itself as a full band collective improvisation before the drums break out to trade sections nicely with the other instruments. “Greetings to Idris” and “Partial Eclipse” are slower and more reflective ballads that have the band playing gently especially on brushes and piano. They manage to keep the music subdued without becoming overly ornamental or maudlin. Their take on the music of Thelonious Monk is particularly joyous, taking a happy and upbeat approach to “Bye-Ya.” Sharp tinged guitar and strong rolling piano move the proceedings effortlessly forward. Fans of mainstream jazz guitar will really enjoy this album, Mullen has a touch of Wes Montgomery influence, but he definitely has his own approach to jazz and the band works together as a winning combination. String Theory -

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