97th and Columbus
Smooth-jazz guitarist Doc Powell pays tribute to Mikell's, the legendary New York City nightspot where he launched his career, with 97th and Columbus (Heads Up), which takes its title from the now-defunct club's address. The album is a collection of easygoing tunes, like the affecting ballad "Ode to Chet," a tribute to Chet Atkins, one of Powell's favorite guitarists, and the sultry "Let's Jam," wherein Powell's Wes Montgomery-inspired guitar lines combine with Bennie Maupin's bass clarinet and soprano saxophone and Patrice Rushen's bluesy piano. Powell's old boss, Luther Vandross, leads a chorus on a mellow, lightly pulsing version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," and the guitarist honors George Benson, a longtime supporter of his career, with a heartfelt though quite faithful cover of Benson's classic "Breezin'." It's a charming performance, but at the same time it would have been interesting to hear a guitarist as adept as Powell get a bit more creative with this well-known tune and make it more his own.