A guitarist with a Benson-like propensity for accompanying her agile licks with joyful vocalese, Joyce Cooling displays uncommon versatility on Keeping Cool (Heads Up HUCD 3053; 36:15). From exploratory mood pieces ("Out of a Movie") to lyrical, dancing grooves ("Callie"), Cooling approaches each composition from a unique, distinctive perspective.
While "Coasting" boasts a high-toned, singing guitar line and spindly solo for a gliding, jazzy feel, "China Basin" is driven by harder, toe-tapping blues threads. "Little Five Points" finds lightly funky bass opening up holes for Cooling to fill with contemplative, elastic riffs, changing the pace of the tune. Another highlight, "Ain't Life Grand," draws from the Stevie Ray Vaughan school of teasingly hesitant, deliberate blues walking. Even the occasional more ordinary polished groove tune ("Before Dawn") is lifted by Cooling's lithe play and melodic detail. This effortless adaptability and consistent melodic grace places
Cooling in the ranks of the top guitarists on the scene today.