In This Present Moment
For his debut as a leader, Orange County guitarist Matthew Van Doran recorded 10 original compositions with a revolving cast of musicians. Guests include Yellowjackets members Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Haslip and Marcus Baylor, as well as drummer Peter Erskine, organist Larry Goldings and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.
Von Doran predominantly plays electric guitar, but when he switches to an acoustic or an 11-string nylon fretless for one song each, his sharp, crisp attack is especially prominent. Throughout the album he proves himself a lyrical soloist. The three tracks with Goldings and Carrington bring out the best in the guitarist, especially "Swang," which manages to sustain a kick even at its subdued level. "Critical Mass" features Mintzer, Baylor, vibraphonist Roger Burn and bassist James Genus, and they take the lead from Van Doran's fast, tricky melody and in turn inspire the guitarist to churn out an exciting solo.
Other tracks, however, feel just a little too clean and smooth. Erskine's New Orleans-style drumming adds some bite to the subdued funk of "Measure Once," but the similar "Cable" never has a chance to catch fire, even with Chick Corea Elektric Band drummer Gary Novak setting the pulse. "Vanity Strikes" has some fire brewing in the Haslip/Baylor rhythm section that again inspires Van Doran and Burn, but it's hard to feel their energy through the slick production.