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Mark Elf Trio: Live at Smalls

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This New York-based guitarist makes no bones about being a dyed-in-the-wool bebopper.

Recorded 1995 but released only recently, Live at Smalls finds Elf in a trio setting with support provided by drummer Joe Strausser and bassist Neal Miner. And while the performances have a few rough edges, Elf pretty much smokes from the get go as he tackles tunes like “Quick Silver,” “It Was Written in the Stars” and “Stella By Starlight” with aplomb. At various points, Elf amply demonstrates his ability to run changes at fast tempos with great skill, but even so, his playing tends to be a bit predictable. However, when he slows down a bit, as on “Stella,” he fully reveals his ability to execute some really hip musical ideas.