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Thom Rotella 4-Tet: Out of the Blues

With Out of the Blues, Thom Rotella has discarded his infernal need to please by fitting neatly into the smooth-jazz marketplace. On this purely swinging session, fueled by the stellar drumming of jazz veteran Roy McCurdy (a valued sideman during the ’60s with the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet, Sonny Rollins and the Cannonball Adderley Quintet), the guitarist goes all the way back to his pre-smooth-jazz roots by paying homage to two of his biggest influences, Wes Montgomery and George Benson.

From the breezy midtempo opener “Who Dat?” to the laid-back and greasy “Bluze 4 Youze” to his jaunty 3/4 swinger “The Dr. Is In,” Rotella flaunts a warm, robust tone and Benson-esque fluidity in his single-note lines, along with touches of Wes-inspired octaves work. A rhythmically assured player and melodic improviser with an abundance of chops, he is capably supported in his fretboard flights by the comfortable rhythm tandem of McCurdy and bassist Luther Hughes, a former sideman to the late Gene Harris of Three Sounds fame. Llew Matthews and Rich Eames split piano duties on these 10 tracks.

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