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Vic Juris: Remembering Eric Dolphy

Vic Juris is a versatile and impressively accomplished guitarist. His playing exudes warmth, intelligence and respect for the tradition. Perhaps best of all, he seems to understand that the foregoing positives also apply to a legion of contemporary guitarists, and he looks for ways to set his work apart, in terms of sound, approach, or material. I have yet to warm up, however, to one of Juris’ ways of sounding different: his use of a highly processed sound, which is present on most of Remembering Eric Dolphy.

I like almost everything else about the Dolphy tribute, from the covers to the interesting originals, to the playing of the sidemen, to the simple fact that a modern-mainstream stylist is making this gesture. Dick Oatts does a nice job on alto, tenor and flute. One quickly gets over the fear of comparing him to Dolphy. His style is closer to Lee Konitz, though his sound is a little harder. He seems to adjust his approach on the Dolphy tunes, creating phrases that are more abstract but still quite unlike those of the author. Juris gets off some great solos himself, especially on uptempo items like “South St. Exit” and “Out There.” The tone thing distracts me more in the ensembles than the solos, but even having this problem I found much more to like than dislike on this gutsy release.

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