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Greg Skaff: Blues and Other News

Born in Wichita, guitarist Greg Skaff is a neo-modernist whose no-nonsense style is spiced with healthy dollops of blues and bop. Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, another Kansan and Skaff’s current employer, offers this assessment: “Greg is the most versatile and imaginative guitarist I’ve played with. He has one foot in the past and one foot in the future, so anything the music calls for…he’s there!” Now that’s an endorsement!

Among the gems are a seriously swinging “Walk the Walk,” whose loamy contours Wes Montgomery would have felt at home with. For contrast, Skaff’s poignant evocation of the William Warfield/Leontyne Price version of “My Man’s Gone Now” transforms melancholy into tremulous, palpable hope. Throughout, group interactions are tight yet loose, and always swinging.

Although reflecting his work with such earthy essayists as Stanley Turrentine, Gloria Lynn and Ruth Brown, Skaff also digs into the contemporary lexicon forged by John Abercrombie and John Scofield. Here, abetted by fellow New Yorkers Bruce Barth (piano), Tony Scherr (bass) and Greg Hutchinson (drums), Skaff brightens the boulevard with strolls at once up-town and down. It’s an exuberant and expansive debut.

Originally Published