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July/August 2007

Joe Beck
Trio7
Whaling City Sound

Joe Beck is a master of rich chordal voicings, intricate contrapuntal playing and melodic improvisation, as he so ably demonstrates here on solo guitar intros to “But Beautiful” and “Cry Me a River.” He receives sensitive support on those gorgeous ballads from bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Thierry Arpino, who also make for an empathetic rhythm tandem on “My Romance” and “(I Don’t Stand) a Ghost of a Chance With You,” as well as on Beck’s elegant waltz-time ballad “Dancing to San Xavier.”

But from there, the guitarist veers off the straightahead path. Purists will no doubt cringe when he cranks up his harmonizer effect on the trio’s expansive version of “Alone Together” or its rambunctious take on “You and the Night and the Music.” Their contemporary groove-oriented arrangements of Trane’s “Impressions” and “Laura” may further alienate the straightahead contingent. Nevertheless, there is no denying that Beck is a great guitarist, and an open-minded one at that.

Originally published in July/August 2007
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