January/February 1997

T.J. Kirk
If Four was One
Warner Brothers

If Four Was One (Warner Bros 9 46262-2: 43:34), the second effort from guitar summit group T.J. Kirk, is a slightly more energetic outing than the group's debut. Like the first one, it looks at the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown and Rahsaan Roland Kirk through a funk-jazz guitar prism (with Prince's "Rockhard in a Funky Place" the only deviation). All the principals are back: Charlie Hunter holds down guitar and bass duties on his eight-string guitar, joining fellow stringsmen John Schott and Will Bernard. This time, the arrangements and playing are more pointed and focused. As with the last disc, the group's tasty licks sound best on the JB stuff. Hunter's sly phrasing is heard on "Get on the Good Foot/Rockhard in a Funky Place." Bernard's octave-effect laden solo energizes "The Big Payback", but some of the other stuff works just as well. Bernard's work on "Ruby My Dear" recalls Blow by Blow-era Jeff Beck, while Schott ellipses his way through the "Meeting at Termini's Corner/I got a Bag of My own/Brilliant Corners" medley.

Originally published in January/February 1997
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