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Denny Jiosa: Among Friends

Among Friends (1201 Music 5013-2; 42:55) finds guitarist Denny Jiosa in a sunny mood, which is well suited to his light, smooth-toned style of play. Jiosa has the unique ability to keep that sweet tone immediate and emotive, without over ornamenting a phrase. This quality can really take wing in a sparse acoustic environment, shown here most notably on “Gentle Spirit,” which offsets the singing guitar with acoustic piano and warm upright bass. Surprisingly, this type of arrangement is the exception on Friends, with busier keyboard-washed tunes like “Lisa” and “Y2GRUV,” which, though hooky and easy to listen to, mask some of Jiosa’s elemental work. But there are some interesting moments that do make an impression, like Jiosa’s spindly, note-bending solo on “Nic of Time,” and his spiking, crying, electric-tinged work on the mysterious “Spider Dance,” one of the album’s true departures.

Originally Published