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Adam Rafferty Trio: Kush

On his notes to Kush, Adam Rafferty talks about how much he likes playing in the guitar-bass-drums format. Some of the reasons he lists have to do with practical and economic issues. He also mentions enjoying the extra space and commensurate responsibility accorded each member of the group, and the fact that he is working with two very different trios sharing this instrumentation certainly demonstrates that he means what he says. But while Rafferty is a very fine player, it really asks a lot of the listener to stay focused on these recordings for the duration. And while recent years have seen an increased number of guitar-bass-drums records, it remains true that the great guitarists of yesteryear tended to use organists who played bass lines on the foot pedals when they worked in the trio format. Listeners who can stay with it will find Rafferty to be a player with a lot of tools in his box.

On Kush Rafferty’s approach is toward the mainstream side of the spectrum; on his New York Trio Project CD, Fifth House, it’s a little more open-ended and, perhaps, ambitious. His choice of material is laudable throughout both CDs, particularly in unobvious choices like Chick Corea’s “Guijira,” Wayne Shorter’s “Beauty and the Beast” and the title track by John Coltrane on Fifth House, or Corea’s “Windows” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Kush” on the other release. Guitar aficionados should hear Rafferty, who at his best can boast fine ideas, well-conceived voicings and a nice sense of swing. Whether he can sustain as the only primary soloist over the length of a CD is open to question.

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