Joe Beck

Finger Painting

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Having been employed as a sideman by everyone from Miles Davis, Joe Farrell, and Gene Ammons to James Brown, Esther Phillips, and Gloria Gaynor, Joe Beck has an impressive résumé when it comes to supporting others. But his output as a leader has been erratic. The guitarist's own catalog is much smaller than it should be, and he hasn't lived up to his full potential as a soloist. One of the decent CDs that Beck recorded in the '90s was Finger Painting, a fusion/post-bop effort boasting Bill Evans (not the famous pianist) on tenor and soprano sax, Mark Egan on electric bass, and Danny Gottlieb on drums. Except for a bluesy interpretation of Gershwin's "Summertime," Beck sticks to his own compositions, which range from the funky, Wes Montgomery-ish "Blues Doctor" and the edgy "Red Eye" to the moody "Texas Ann" and the pensive "What Would I Do Without You?" Finger Painting, which Egan produced, isn't a gem, but it has enough going for it to make you wish that Beck had recorded as a leader more often over the years.

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