Since relocating to New York from his native Israel in 1996, guitarist Oz Noy has made an impact on the Big Apple scene with his sizzling, devilishly creative six-string work. Through his longstanding residency at the Bitter End, where he regularly plays with bassist Will Lee and drummers Anton Fig or Keith Carlock, Oz has gradually built up a cult following of guitar aficionados and fellow players. His rhythmic assuredness, audacious tone and note choices and edgy attack have served him well on four previous CDs of clever reimaginings of jazz standards and potent originals.
On his fifth outing as a leader, Noy delivers searing blues-rock fare in the company of bassists Lee and Roscoe Beck (who has worked with both Robben Ford and Eric Johnson); drummers Fig, Vinnie Colaiuta and former Stevie Ray Vaughan sideman Chris Layton; and organists Jerry Z, John Medeski and former SRV sideman Reese Wynans.
On the title track, a Scofield-meets-Medeski, Martin & Wood funk jam, Noy employs chank-a-chank comping and stinging wah-wah-inflected licks. The same formula is used on a quirky reworking of the Meters’ funk anthem “Cissy Strut” featuring Medeski on organ. New Orleans pianist and songwriting treasure Allen Toussaint guests on the authentic, behind-the-beat Crescent City groover “Oh Really?”
The tough Texas shuffle “Whole Tone Blues” is a bit of homage to Vaughan that features the late guitar hero’s former bandmates Wynans and Layton laying it down like back in the day. And “You Are the State” is a luxurious ballad full of Hendrixy “Little Wing”-inspired chordal work, liquid whammy bar articulations and passionate blues licks, à la SRV’s “Lenny.” A serious Monkophile (he’s done twisted interpretations of Thelonious tunes on four of his five albums), Oz turns in a dreamy rendition of “Light Blue” that sounds more like Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” as well as a frantic, Texas-shuffle version of “Trinkle Tinkle” that would’ve pleased both SRV and Monk.