It’s little wonder that Mel Bay’s Guitar Sessions label would follow a disc by the acclaimed Vic Juris with one by Jonathan Kreisberg, a guitarist with a similarly hazy tone and solid command of the postbop style. Leading a quintet for the first time on disc, Kreisberg uses the group on Unearth to explore the cerebral realm of postbop made popular by Miles Davis’ 1960s quintet. The eight Kreisberg originals challenge the frontline–trumpeter Scott Wendholt and pianist Aaron Goldberg, plus Kreisberg–with plenty of fast-paced, chops-testing material as well as more pensive, balladic fare. Everyone plays with brilliance, but the music on Unearth feels too put together to surprise, and Kreisberg sounds more hemmed in than freed by the context, thus he never builds to the satisfying peaks he’s capable of reaching.
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