(Smoke Sessions Records)
Well, here’s a class act. Bernstein is an electric guitarist of great experience, often a sideman, less often a leader, his CV including stints with Lou Donaldson, Joshua Redman and Diana Krall. I remember hearing him some time in the mid-’90s, in an exhilarating performance by the Joshua Redman band at Brecon Jazz Festival when they had arrived late with barely enough time for a soundcheck.
For this recording he has his old compadre from that band, Bill Stewart, on drums, with Doug Weiss on bass and Gerald Clayton on piano. Despite the fact that it is on the label of the famous Manhattan club, this is not a live recording.
It contains five tunes from the leader, plus shrewd choices of others, like the lovely Cuban tune Tres Palabras and Woody Shaw’s Sweet Love Of Mine. Of the originals, the opener, Let Loose, is a loose-limbed groover, and Cupcake has a certain retro-’50s feel about it.
It’s a marvellously relaxed session, the majority of the solos coming from Bernstein, with Clayton also providing some particularly tasty interludes of his own. Jazz which doesn’t try too hard – these guys have that kind of reassurance to just carry on doing what they do best.
Categories: CD review