Friday, March 3, 2017

Jimmy Bruno - 1996 "Like That"

Although Like That was recorded in New York, many of the people involved with the project were Philadelphians. The pleasing hard bop date unites Jimmy Bruno's Philly-based trio of the 1990s (which includes bassist Craig Thomas and drummer Steve Holloway) with organist/trumpeter and Philly native Joey DeFrancesco, while the liner notes were written by guitar great Pat Martino (another Philadelphian). Producer Allen Farnham, however, lived close to New York in northern New Jersey. Bruno's guitar and DeFrancesco's organ prove highly compatible on selections ranging from Sam Jones' "Unit Seven" and Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" to Bruno originals such as the sentimental "Waltz for Nancy," the angular "Raezer's Edge," and the mellifluous "Night Dreamer." Although DeFrancesco plays organ on most of the 11 songs, he switches to the trumpet and favors a Miles Davis-influenced mute on relaxed versions of "There Is No Greater Love" and "Stars Fell on Alabama." Bruno's Concord output has been quite consistent, and this fine CD is no exception.

Having paid his dues for 20 years, guitarist Jimmy Bruno has returned to his roots of straight-ahead jazz in his hometown of Philadelphia.
After an auspicious debut on the album Sleight of Hand in 1992, Bruno continues to press forward to the delight of fans who are discovering for the first time his intricate technique and melodic aptitude. On Like That, Bruno's regular trio teams up with Joey DeFrancesco to create a guitar/organ collaboration that brings out the best in both of them.
After learning guitar from his father, Jimmy Bruno, Sr. (who had a hit in 1959 with the "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" and who used to back up Nat King Cole), Bruno, Jr. struck out on his own at the age of 19 when he joined the Buddy Rich band. After only a year of touring, he moved to Las Vegas, only to find his jazz ambitions frustrated by the repetition of casino bands. He put down roots in Las Vegas, but his restlessness got the best of him, forcing him to move to Los Angeles for work on television and film sound tracks. As he neared the age of 40, Bruno chucked it all and moved back to Philadelphia to start fresh in a jazz career.
He couldn't have made a better move. Not only does he have four albums under his belt, but also he's a professor at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, as is bassist Craig Thomas, and Bruno performs regularly at Chris' Cafe.
Along with the usual guitarists, Bruno lists his influences as John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker and Art Tatum—which makes sense when you realize that Bruno thinks in musical concepts instead of licks.
Most of the original compositions on the album—six by Bruno and one by Thomas—are constructed from fairly simple chord changes and a logical concept. But the things he and DeFrancesco do with them!
DeFrancesco proves his adaptability as he responds to Bruno's explorations, and the "chatter" they develop at the culmination of Pat's House, a tribute to Pat Martino, is head-spinning and awe-inspiring.
Then for contrast, there's Waltz for Nancy, whose beautiful simplicity Bruno plumbs with unpretentious variations and effortless cascading of sixteen-note and then triplet lines that seem to evolve naturally from the theme.
While the tunes involving DeFrancesco's B-3 work are the most satisfying, he plays muted trumpet on There Is No Greater Love and Stars Fell on Alabama for subtle effect.
While Les Paul isn't listed as one of Bruno's influences, the Les Paul sound seems to be referenced in the title number called Like That, and indeed, Pat Martino mentions that Paul predicted he would write liner notes for Bruno someday. The mutual admiration between Bruno and Martino seems evident. Bruno records Pat's House, named after, of course, Pat Marino's house. And then, Martino remarks, "Jimmy's one of the most astounding players I've had the pleasure of knowing."
This album was a discovery for me, and it's gratifying to learn about a new jazz guitarist following a tradition of melodic revelation, compositional talent, and technical excellence.

Guitar master, Jimmy Bruno, is exceptional here and demonstrates not only how to shine without sounding forced or over the top but how to enhance the gifts of incredible playing partners.

From your stereo speakers when you listen to this extrordinary disc! Grooves and swings from start to finish with world class musicianship from Bruno, featured guest Joey DeFrancesco and the rhythm section. Bassist Craig Thomas composition on the disc's opener "EV" is a great swinging starter, as are other disc highlights; "Pat's House", "Unit Seven", the elusive chords of "The Iguana's Uncle", and Jimmy's seven string chord melody intro to "Waltz For Nancy". We even get a Miles muted trumpet outing from Joey D. on "There Is No Greater Love".
This disc is a great collaboration between these two artists and recommend it ALL jazz lovers!

I bought this album when it first came out and shelved it for a while. Now I'm giving it a second listen and I love it! It's the best Jimmy Bruno album, showing a more serious and eclectic side of his playing. I only wish his keyboardist DeFrancesco played a few less notes.
If you're someone who loves a traditional jazz guitar, you will not be disappointed. Bruno has the best chops in the the business.

I just recently got this album, and all I can say is that to me this is Bruno at his best. Having the great Joey DeFrancesco as his melodic foil pushes him to play at the zenith of his abilities. There simply is not a weak track on this CD. I especially enjoyed the relatively relaxed feel of "Unit 7". And for sheer excitement, "Pat's House" is a blast. This track reminds me of the McLaughlin/Coryell/Vitous collaboration "Spaces". However as great as John and Larry are, Bruno is just in another league.

They say that Jimmy Bruno is the greatest unknown modern jazz guitar player. This CD proves it. As a bonus, Joey DeFrancesco plays some great B3 along with the tight groove of drummer Steve Holloway and Bassist Craig Thomas. This CD provides high octane hard bop throughout, but "Unit Seven" alone is worth the price...WOW, I gotta see this guy live.

Track listing:

01. E.V.     4:39
02. Raezer's Edge     5:03
03. Waltz For Nancy     5:41
04. There Is No Greater Love     6:12
05. The Iguana's Uncle     4:24
06. Pat's House     5:23
07. Night Dreamer     6:15
08. The Way You Look Tonight     5:24
09. Like That     4:48
10. Stars Fell On Alabama     3:26
11. Unit Seven     8:08


Jimmy Bruno, guitar;
Joey DeFrancesco, organ, trumpet*;
Steve Holloway, drums;
Craig Thomas, acoustic and electric bass 

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