While piano and trumpet releases seemed to dot the landscape last year, 2012 would appear to the year of the guitarist and the September 18, 2012 release from Graham Dechter should push him right to the front of the pack. The remaining ensemble is rounded out with stellar drummer Jeff Hamilton, prolific bassist John Clayton and the highly acclaimed Tamir Hendelman on piano. Dechter plays clean and sharp. Single note runs with a lyrical sense of purpose and a swing that is undeniable. Graham Dechter's keen sense of harmonics and their development add a great deal of flavor and a very individual voice to the current state of modern jazz guitar. Musical frame of reference? Tough call as you hear bits and pieces of influences that could include such luminaries as Kenny Burrell and Jim Hall but with an individual style and flair that is all Dechter's creation. A true artist at work.
Standard, jazz classics and some well penned originals have Dechter poised for potential greatness thanks to him time spent in the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Combine the blatantly obvious chemistry between the members of this 4tet and the ability to shift dynamics on the fly with some delightful reharmonizations that are incredibly engaging, especially "Come Rain Or Come Shine." The classic Wes Montgomery tune "Road Song" kicks the release off in style. A groove you can use. Swing you feel in your hips and hear with your feet. Bassist Clayton offers up the tune "Grease For Graham" allowing Dechter to contribute what I like to call his "jazz nasty." A gritty if not infectious number that other guitarists would do well to emulate. The Lee Morgan hard bop tune "Hocus Pocus" showcases the talents of drummer Hamilton. Close friend pianist Josh Nelson who currently plays with Sara Gazarek contributes the title track "Takin' It There" which borders on the more contemporary side of the jazz street.
A somewhat conceptual release with the idea being to represent the push and pull between different schools of musical thought. Going outside your comfort zone and a sense of discovery that would you are shooting for may all ready dwell deep within your musical soul. The key is to let it out. A sincere respect for jazz tradition coupled with the sincere desire to push the music forward has this release locked and loaded as an immediate head turner when it hits the streets!
Dechter's musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up and this is a release you simply can not pass up! The great John Clayton said it best, "This is a bad ass record!"
For me, this 4tet swings like a beast and is easily on my year end best of list!
Tracks: Road Song; Be Deedle Dee Do; Chega De Saudade ( No More Blues); Together And Apart; Takin' It There; Father; Grease For Graham; Hocus Pocus; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Amanda/ Every Time We Say Goodbye.
Personnel: Graham Dechter: guitar; Tamir Hendelman: piano; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums.
A behind the scenes look from You Tube.