Mel Bay Records
As a guy who enjoys fretboard runs that sound like organized thoughts and not run-on sentences, I get the smiles from Corey Christiansen's lyrical guitar lines. It's a shame that a guitarist whose playing suggests the focus of Barney Kessel ends up squandering his talent on a poor recording. Awakening (Guitar Sessions), is an adventurous set of formidable Christiansen originals and standards like "Darn That Dream" and "All the Things You Are" that trades back and forth between impressionism and straightahead swing, which would be fantastic if not for the mixing job. Danny Gottlieb's drums find a hard time overcoming the wash of his cymbals, and bassist Mark Neuenschwander is buried underneath pianist Per Danielsson and Christiansen, who are plenty present in the mix-too in-your-face, in fact. And what's up with the number of tunes that fade out? The songs don't come off nearly as taut and focused as the leader's melodic phrases. Considering Christiansen's talent, Awakening deserves a remix.