Albare and The Road Ahead travel the lyrical path of least resistance and melodic wonder.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
Modern jazz guitar in the United States has become somewhat predictable. Only a handful of artists are venturing post the accepted norms as "the business" continues to point the way for players looking to have something more meaningful than a career playing some of the finer venues in New York. Albare comes to us via Australia but brings an exciting if not eclectic mix of Moroccan influences to the more mainstream lyrically oriented contemporary genre that is so prevalent in this country.
Walking the harmonic tightrope between cultural influences is never an easy task yet with fellow Australian Phil Turcio on piano, Cuban bassist Yunior Terry and Venezuelan drummer Pablo Bencid. This dynamic 4tet takes twelve original compositions from Albare and adds some world music nuances to the more straight ahead groove of Albare. For the uninitiated, the sound of Albare can best be linked to the classic Wes Montgomery meets George Benson riff pulled off with flair and precision.
There is one cover here, Overjoyed from the Stevie Wonder discography. Allan Harris does a first rate job handling the vocal duties yet there is an air of predictability that surrounds this cover with the positive tip being the melody was not mangled in the reharm and it is this restraint that saves the tune. Overjoyed may be the most recorded cover of the year thus far so the tune is wearing a bit thin for this critic. Surprises? Not many. Albare is a solid composer and first rate instrumentalist and for those seeking a more contemporary hybrid of modern jazz guitar, you have found it!
4 Stars. A solid recording on virtually any level you could imagine.
Tracks: Road Ahead Part A; Into To Give Me 5; Give Me 5; Intro To The Gift; The Gift; Expectations; Intro To Heart of Heart Revisited; Heart of Heart; No Love Lost; New Signs; Tender You; Overjoyed; The Road Ahead Part B.