Jazz Hits Volume 1
Mel Bay Records
Two may be the norm as far as jazz-guitar groupings go, but three swiftly proves a charm on this collection of imaginatively arranged standards performed by world-class plectrists Jimmy Bruno, Vic Juris and Corey Christiansen. With the uncluttered support of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Danny Gottlieb, the trio fluidly swings and soulfully moves through a 10-track collection of standards that often points to Miles Davis’ discography.
“Solar,” “All Blues,” “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Milestones” make the cut, and yet despite the constant flow of familiar themes, the album is consistently distinguished by guitar-triplicate arrangements created by each of the principal players. The most unusual, at least as far as tone and texture is concerned, is Christiansen’s acoustic-electric setting for “All Blues,” a slide guitar treatment with Delta:blues overtones. The performance contrasts sharply with some of the album’s melodic snares, including two ballads freshened by Juris’ pen: A lovely, spacious and harmonically overhauled reworking of “On Green Dolphin Street” and a haunting take on Horace Silver’s “Peace” that immediately invites repeat spins.
At times it’s hard to tell who’s playing what, particularly when pedal effects come into play, as on “Freedom Jazz Dance.” But there’s no mistaking the ease with which these guitarists collaborate and how mindful they are of their place in the oft-tricky scheme of things. Here’s hoping Volume 2 retains the same lineup and expands the “hits” concept to include a few relative obscurities or original tunes.