Philip Catherine: Blue Prince

One of top jazz guitarists on the far side of the Atlantic, Belgium’s Philip Catherine has worked with the likes of Jean-Luc Ponty and Larry Coryell. Here he puts his quartet-populated by very capable mix of European musicians-through its paces by means of an eclectic combination of originals and standards.

Catherine works through his progressive tendencies on tunes like the burning “Coffee Groove,” the funky “The Creeper” and the anthemic “Global Warming,” which feature his processed tone and a fair share of aggression. It’s jazz all right, but with an edge and larger than usual compass. On the standards and select originals, however, he gets downright traditional, opting for a more conservative tone and approach that finds him weaving lines that deftly outline the chord changes. Case in point: the swinging reading of “With a Song in My Heart,” where he gets in a beautifully phrased solo that includes single-notes and double-stops occasionally punctuated with chords, and which also includes a nice foray by trumpeter Bert Joris.

This program might be a bit too bipolar for some listeners; however, those with a tolerance for variety will dig Catherine’s overall artistic aesthetic and undeniable talents.