usually a good sign when an artist’s debut release features all new music.
It’s even better when it’s a straight jazz approach.
Guitarist Dave Juarez doesn’t disappoint with Round Red Light (Posi-Tone,
2011), a set of nine songs featuring Juarez with tenor saxophonist Seamus
Blake, pianist John Escreet, bassist Lauren Falls and drummer Bastian
Weinhold. Except for Falls, each member of the group has his own new
release out this year.
Round Red Light is less about Jaurez showing what he can do than it
is about what a group can do with his songwriting. For much of the set,
Blake is out front, and the other musicians get plenty of room to stretch
out. But make no mistake, when Juarez does step forward, he does it with
“Montpellier View,” the shortest track at just under five minutes, has a
driving beat, guided largely by the bass. Juarez plays the electric in a
way that’s part Wes Montgomery jazz and part Steve Khan fusion. “Lonely
Brooklyn” is an upbeat selection with several high-speed, duet riffs,
pairing various combinations of musicians. Escreet is more of a focal
point here. Starting at about the one-minute mark, he puts the piano
through a strenuous workout that last nearly a third of the song.
The set closes with the mult-modal “RNP,” the longest track at 11 minutes.
The piece has a deceptively slow and mellow start. It quickly shifts gears
into an intense amalgamation of sound. All five players show off
individually but well within the parameters of the group. Jaurez and Blake
bring it home with a passionate duet, underscored by the others.
Round Red Light, accented by a cover photo of a berry-colored
incandescent lamp, is a vibrant mix of hard-charging jazz with elegant