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Steven Kirby: North Light

The tight, precise guitar/sax doublings during the head to “Line Game,” which opens North Light (A-Records), leaves little doubt that Boston-based Steven Kirby is a fine musician with formidable chops and a refined sense of time and space. Two groups are featured here: Saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Matt Wilson are featured on three tracks (including the aforementioned tune); while saxophonist Bill Vint, keyboardist Mark Shilansky, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa and drummer Mike Connors form the nucleus of the remaining numbers, along with miscellaneous other musicians. Kirby’s imposing talents as an improviser are obvious, as he spins out fluent, graceful lines. In the process, he also proves himself to be a talented composer, witnessed by “Autumn Song,” with its Afro-Latin groove, the meditative ballad “North Light” and “Paradigm Shift,” a cooking uptempo number. A hip, tasty solo guitar treatment of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the program’s only nonoriginal, not only shows Kirby’s versatility but also helps confirm that he’s a cut above the horde of guitarists trying to make it in the jazz world.

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