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Nick Brignola: Tour de Force

Tour de Force is more than a title; it describes just about every one of the nine tracks of Brignola’s 21st album as a leader (and 10th for Reservoir.) Brignola enjoys maximum freedom on the CD, which is devoid of piano. His backing includes bassist Eddie Gomez, a complete rhythm section by himself, guitarist Chuck D’Aloia and drummer Bill Stewart. Percussionist Cafe guests on three tracks.

Brignola shines throughout, from the album-opening study in pedal point (basically one change), Dave Holland’s folkish “Backwoods Song,” to his own grooving original “Local Motion.” And from the way-up hard-edged bop of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” and the sensuous, Latin treatment of Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” with its wondrous changes, to the down and dirty Harry “Sweets” Edison blues “Centerpiece” and the free-form explorations of “Labyrinth,” another well-named Brignola original, Tour de Force is a of tour of greatness.

All the solos are sparkling: D’Aloia’s single-string statements can be heard to great advantage on “V.I.” and “Indigo Rays”; Gomez’s big tone is impressive on each track, but his solos on “Donna Lee” and “Centerpiece” are truly outstanding. Gomez isn’t quite Slam Stewart, but he vocally duplicates virtually every lick-even attempts the double stops. And that Brignola: his solos are pure gold. He may be pushing 66, but his chops refuse to age.

Originally Published