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Royce Campbell Trio: Make Me Rainbows

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Royce Campbell’s prolific discography is surely one of the most expansive in today’s jazz guitar circles. Whether it’s his outstanding solo outings, his gypsy-tinged tribute, or his albums of reworked standards, Campbell seems adverse to repeating himself even as all his work shares a pronounced melodic sensibility. On Make Me Rainbows, a reissue of his 1995 album, Campbell steps into the classic organ trio setting with the legendary musicians Melvin Rhyne and Jimmy Cobb. Given this lineup it’s not a matter of if the session will smoke, but only of how hot.

The fire ignites immediately with “Mr Montgomery”, a bouncing tribute to Wes Montgomery with whom both Rhyne and Cobb played. Assured in his own stylist approach, Campbell smartly incorporates mannerisms of the jazz guitar great without falling into mimicry. Loosing none of his youthful agility, when Rhyne lets loose with an organ solo one could be forgiven for mistaking the decade. The vibrate feel continues in “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” which Campbell has reworked into waltz time. Cobb’s light touch really shines on this cut – propelling it along while never over-shadowing the others. Especially pleasing here is the way Rhyne’s backing interweaves with Campbell’s deft lines. On the slower side, the ballads are equally interesting and harmonically fertile. Both “Ruby” and “You Go To My Head” show off the beauty of Rhyne’s lush chordal accompaniment as well as Campbell’s ability to play in and around the smooth backing while never surrendering his harmonic voice to it.

Thankfully, Make Me Rainbows has been rescued from the out-of-print netherworld with this reissue. It justly deserves to be heard again. The warm timbre of the classic guitar-organ-drums grouping shimmer with rich with overtones, and with the trio of Campbell, Rhyne and Cobb, the harmonic and rhythmic interplay is pleasingly expressive throughout.

Originally Published