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January 21, 2006

Jazz CD Review New Guitar Summit

Written by
cindy mcleod

CD Review – Swing Jazz
Jay Geils/Duke Robillard/Gerry Beaudoin
New Guitar Summit
Stony Plain Records/2004

New Guitar Summit celebrates the finer things in life, good music, good friends, and good hearts. There’s no pretension nor ego to be found on this self-titled recording, just straight ahead traditional swing music performed flawlessly by three of the greatest guitar players of our time. New Guitar Summit is formed by contemporary masters Jay Geils, Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin, who came together in three studio sessions to create these eleven audio (plus one video) tracks and pay tribute to the masters of the past.

The triumvirate are highly renowned guitar maestros with long and successful careers behind them, and have known one another and performed together for decades. Friends, peers, and partners, the three share the common bonds of their New England birthplace, and their mutual love of blues and jazz. These bonds are clearly evident, it’s as though they’re each other’s breath in this brotherhood of music and roots. The trio alternately play their signature three-part harmonies, contribute breathtaking solos, and provide the rhythmic heartbeat for one another as they make their way articulately through the repertoire. Throughout the trio is gently supported by Beaudoin’s longtime associates John Turner (bass), and Gordon Grottenthaler (drums).

Hearkening back to a sweeter, simpler time, what is most striking (aside from the virtuosity) about this music is that it creates a feeling that everything is all right with the world. The result of a delicious blend of jazz & blues, the voices of guitarists such as Charlie Christian, Eddie Durham, Bill Jennings, Tiny Grimes, Herb Ellis, Freddy Green, Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel and Kenny Burrell are brought to life in this easy swing offering. The sound is further enhanced by the use of an elegant array of vintage guitars. The whole is a relaxed musical dialogue that draws one into a warm embrace and whispers sweetness and light into your ear.

The group pays homage to the artists of an era when guitar was becoming a lead instrument on the bandstands, tipping their hats to such greats as guitarist Charlie Christian (Benny Goodman Orchestra) with their versions of Christian’s “Benny’s Bugle” and the Christian/Goodman collaboration of “Seven Come Eleven”. Robillard acknowledges the influences of the great saxophonists of the time with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vincent’s “Backdoor Blues”. Gerry Beaudoin contributes the three original compositions; “Swing With Dr. Jake”, “Just Among Friends” and “Azzure Mineur”, a contemporary feel fused with a gypsy blues sound. A collection of songwriting gems like Juan Tizol’s “Perdido” and Ellington’s “Lady B. Good” round out the balance. All but three of the tracks are instrumentals, with vocals delivered by Robillard on “Never Say Never Again”, and “Backdoor Blues”, while Beaudoin sings “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”.

The New Guitar Summit reveals the true nature of what makes musical genius, the eloquence of three virtuosos in an intimate, essential conversation. More, we’re warmly invited to join in.

Cindy McLeod

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