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December 2000

Roland Guerin
You Don't Have to See It to Believe It
Half Note Records

This time Half Note, the house label for New York's pricey Blue Note club, has released a studio date and the bright, young New Orleanian bassist Roland Guerin is the beneficiary. Guerin, sans lengthy apprenticeships in learned bands, is another of his generation's instant bandleaders. Old schoolers may argue with that, but it's a fact of modern jazz life. And just as factually, Guerin certainly knows his way around his instrument. He's from the full-bodied, as opposed to fleet-fingered, school of bass playing, laying articulate fingers to gut strings for a nice, thick feel. This is best evidenced by his lovely essay on "I Can't Get Started," delivered with the proper sense of relaxation, and succeeded by Brice Winston's tender, Joe Hendersonesque tenor solo.

Three tracks are buoyed by a two-tenor frontline as John Ellis joins Winston in partnership, not opposition-and that's important. In addition to his upright, Guerin employs a six-string acoustic bass guitar, as on the title opener. Guerin's other mates on You Don't Have to See It to Believe It are saxman Derek Douget on three tracks, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Jason Marsalis, whose excellent development continues.

Originally published in December 2000
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