Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Will Bernard - Just Like Downtown (Posi-Tone, 2013)

Guitarist Will Bernard presents a fine album of soulful modern jazz in the company of John Ellis on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Rudy Royston on drums and Brian Charette on organ. “Sweet Spot” has an upbeat tempo with nice saxophone and snappy drumming. Ellis’ sound is tightly wound and a bit gritty, perfect for this setting. Solos for organ and guitar are featured before everyone comes together to end the tune in a hard driving motion. A repetitive groove builds tension on “Dancing Days” and this organ focused song is a great feature for Charette. Bernard’s guitar sneaks in, building a funk rhythm and stepping out for a fine solo. After a complicated and choppy opening, “Little Hand” has Ellis stretching out over organ and drums with a focused solo while the organ keeps pushing the pace. Bernard then steps forward, with an appealing Grant Green like tone taking center stage. After a bubbling organ feature, Ellis leads the tune to close with a strong statement of his own. “Route 46” develops a groove from the bass pedals of the organ and the saxophone builds things up to the point where Bernard can assert himself with some intuitive and nimble guitar playing. The whole band becomes one and drives this tune home with strong and powerful swing. Jazz fans who revere the guitar and organ records that were a staple of the Blue Note and Prestige catalogs of the 1950’s and 1960’s will find a lot to enjoy here, the subtle propulsive groove of this music is well played and accessible. Just Like Downtown - amazon.com

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