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December 2005

Philip Catherine, Bert Joris, Brussels Jazz Orchestra
Meeting Colours
Dreyfus Records

The Belgian mainstream guitarist Philip Catherine is highly regarded as a player, but he can also craft attractive, well-designed compositions as demonstrated by Meeting Colours. Trumpeter/ flugelhornist Bert Joris--Catherine's longtime colleague who also appears as the second major soloist here--has expertly arranged the guitarist's work, plus Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," for the Brussels Jazz Orchestra.

Though Catherine is a formidable improviser who has worked with such American luminaries as Chet Baker, Tom Harrell and Charles Mingus, this CD focuses on his compositions--so much so that he's often just the dominant voice in the ensemble rather than a soloist at the forefront. For instance, during "On the Ground" and "Happy Tears" his guitar sometimes plays as an additional member of the saxophone section. Perhaps as a consequence, most of Catherine's solos, though thoughtful and well constructed, are relatively subdued. Still, there are spots where he generates fire and dexterous swing.

Joris' own improvisations display the beautiful tone, exquisite lyricism and deft swing of, say, a top-form Chet Baker. The Brussels Jazz Orchestra performs the eclectic mainstream program with confidence and expertise.

Originally published in December 2005
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