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Jonathan Kreisberg : The South of Everywhere

Jonathan Kreisberg

Since moving to New York in 1998, Kreisberg has been winning over guitar aficionados with his extraordinarily clean articulation, remarkable sax-like fluency, harmonic daring and rhythmically assured burn. On his sixth and most accomplished outing as a leader, the guitarist showcases his considerable chops and unique writing style in separate trio and quintet settings. Kreisberg’s warm-toned flow of notes cascades effortlessly over the myriad changes on his involved heads, which he often plays in unison with alto saxophonist Will Vinson. Together, their tight execution on pieces like the relaxed, midtempo swinger “Strange Resolution” and the complex, metrically shifting “Altered Ego” recalls the kindred hookup between guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and his alter ego, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner.

As the rhythm section of bassist Matt Penman, pianist Gary Versace and drummer Mark Ferber builds momentum on the title track, Kreisberg unleashes a dazzling arpeggiated solo. He hits a compositional highwater mark on the ambitious suite-like “Kiitos” and stakes out some fresh territory on “Funeral for the Ants,” which opens with a dissonant blast of power chords before resolving to a melancholy 3/4 theme over which Kreisberg and Vinson wail with abandon. The guitarist’s tender ballad “Elena” is underscored by Ferber’s sensitive brushwork and features some sparse, beautiful accompaniment from Versace. Ferber’s loosely swinging, highly interactive approach to the kit comes to the fore on the two trio numbers here: an inventive 7/8 interpretation of “Stella by Starlight” and a jaunty, uptempo take on Irving Berlin’s “The Best Thing for You,” both of which feature some of Kreisberg’s most fleet-fingered moments of this collection.

Originally Published