Scott Jeppesen's coming out party, El Guapo has all the stars in perfect alignment.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
The west coast has an unfair stereotype of being home to the more commercial sound associated with modern jazz. There is a sound that only a handful of artists are able to cultivate which is an almost organic mix of the more straight ahead with splashes of contemporary flair. El Guapo finds Scott Jeppesen nailing the new sound of modern jazz while utilizing some of his more old school influences. Jeppesen brings together some of the finest musicians in Los Angeles for a truly memorable debut release.
The ensemble cast here is A list straight down the line. Trumpeter John Daversa provides the perfect counterpoint while Larry Koonse's nylon string work adds that ethereal contemporary quality that completes this harmonic balancing act. Pianist Josh Nelson further establishes his reputation as perhaps the fastest rising pianist working the L.A. scene and bassist Dave Robaire and Dan Schnelle round out a formidable rhythm section with the panache and precision of nuanced finesse to push the band to greater heights. Jeppesen may be new as a leader but his resume includes gigs as a sideman with such luminaries as Dave Brubeck and Al Jarreau while his work as a composer / arranger for such acts as Steve Miller and Ramsey Lewis have clearly paid off with the depth and character of this most auspicious release.
Scott draws from Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, and Sonny Rollins with the end result a controlled but very raw edge to his playing, a refreshing change from his somewhat predictable contemporaries. All original compositions with the exception of Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In" and an evocative ECM like riff on Richie Beirach's "Elm" which is a stellar duet with the nylon string acoustic work of guitarist Koonse. The melancholy reverence of the emotional "Prayer For Sandy Hook" is as touching as the blowing session to close out the release with Porter's "Don't Fence Me In" as avaunt garde as they come. Here Jeppesen takes a page from the Sonny Rollins play book from the Way Out West recording from 1957 and bangs out a standard only reminding you of the actual melody at the very end.
Scott Jeppesen's El Guapo runs the sonic spectrum with imagination, execution and compositional skills that definitely make him a player to watch and a name to remember!
Tracks: El Guapo; Elm; Great Odin's Raven; I Tend To Agree; Maybe Later; No Drama; Overlapping Conversations; Hidden; Prayer For Sandy Hook; Don't Fence Me In.
Personnel: Scott Jeppesen: Saxophones, Bass Clarinet; John Daversa: Trumpet / Flugelhorn (3,5); Larry Koonse: Guitar; Josh Nelson: Piano, Keyboards; Dave Robaire: Bass; Dan Schnelle: Drums
Special Thanks To Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations!