Ronald Muldrow

Facing Wes

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Ronald Muldrow, an L.A.-based guitarist whose main influences are Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell, is a strong improviser in the tradition of 1960s straight-ahead jazz. For this outing, Muldrow is joined by some top New York musicians: pianist James Williams, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Yoron Israel and percussionist Kendrick Gueno. The guitarist performs six of his originals (including tributes to Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Oliver Nelson and Charles Mingus), two numbers from his former employer Eddie Harris (including a waltz version of "All Blues" called "Three Quarter Miles"), the swinger "Our Day Will Come," and "Little White Lies." The interplay between Muldrow, Nelson and Williams is quite impressive (Nelson virtually co-stars with Muldrow as a soloist and as a key sound in the ensembles); the music always moves, and the generally relaxed set is full of subtle surprises. A fine effort.

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