Guitarist Adam Rafferty made his auspicious debut with First Impressions in 1993, at the age of 23. He is backed by the working trio of his mentor, pianist Mike Longo (with Paul West on bass and Ray Mosca on drums). A bebopper to the core, Rafferty exhibits chops and intelligence but not quite the confident touch that he would develop in the ensuing years. The record comes across less as a personal statement than a diligent (and successful) attempt to prove bona fide. Indeed, Rafferty passes all the paradigmatic tests of a literate jazz improviser with flying colors, most impressively on the Ellington ballad "I Got It Bad," James Moody's slow blues "Savannah Calling," and two fast Coltrane tunes that pose completely different harmonic challenges, "Impressions" and "Giant Steps." Longo's solos, in addition, are models of rhythmic and tonal control, and Rafferty often seems to emulate what could be called the Longo touch.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler