Guitarist Royce Campbell has a liking for taking chord progressions from familiar standards and improvising new melodies with them. He thinks outside of the box while using material that comes from inside the box. He does so on his sophomore album Roses And Wine from Philology Records, opening with a rollicking jive-inspired tune “Take A Train” that conjures up the feeling of riding a steam locomotive across country. There is more to Campbell’s music than the melodic haikus of his guitar pizzicatos or andante strumming, for instance, the folksy-Hawaiian sizzle in the chord textures of the title track infuses a pacifying mood which features the bebop phrasing of Hod O’Brien’s piano keys. Also showcased on the recording are Pete Spaar and James King who share the bass duties.
Every track sounds like it is smiling at the listener thumping along the upbeat ruminations of the trio and the pliable chord coordinates of the melodic patterns. The smooth bluesy piping of “Lover Guy” pervades a sensual stroll in Campbell’s guitar riffs as the vigorous arcos of the bass in “There’s No Other You” are enhanced by add-ons of vaunting jetties in the piano phrases. The laid back chord expressions of “D. .Jam Blues” have a Louisiana sound that shifts into a cool bebop traction in “All The Things.” The leisurely gait of the piano keys in “That’s Not All” moves in harmony with the moonlight coloring of Campbell’s guitar chords as the comfy grooves of “More Than Just Friends” imbue the melody with a cheerful sprint. The bebop motifs strewn across “Into Nowhere:” and “D. Jam Blues” have a vintage Americana feel reminiscent to Chet Baker and props a happy tapping along the rhythmic beats.
Roses and Wine is feel good music from beginning to end and displays the trio’s ability to play like a well-oiled machine. Campbell has a lengthy recording history that includes working on tribute albums for Wes Montgomery and Henri Mancici, in addition to being a sideman on other artists records as well as making albums in his own right. The authenticity in Campbell’s playing breeds sunshine and joy in the seams of the transitional phrases and chord progressions making music that gravitates to going up the shafts.