James Emery

Fourth World

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Several unusual aspects of this recording stand out. First, there is the utter versatility of Joe Lovano, who penned several of the tunes and performs convincingly on a variety of instruments, including drums. Next is the mix of players; acoustic guitar and bass, sax, and voice make up the core of the ensemble, with varied combinations on each tune. Finally, there is the essentially conservative, melodic content. James Emery, in particular, focuses on writing beautiful lines. A perfect example is his simple though attractive "Hannah's Tune," which closes the album. Judi Silvano's flute work adds an extra dimension, although she is heard mostly in her customary role as a scat singer. While some of the pieces drift a bit, Emery's acoustic guitar pleases with its nuance and intensity. The guitarist has absorbed a plethora of influences and whether he picks or strums, the results are serious and almost always worth hearing. There is a chamber feel to some of the pieces, and even Lovano's drums are tastefully restrained. Drew Gress' bass plays an important role, underpinning the foundation and providing some impressive soloing. His backing of Lovano on "Splendido" is one of the highlights of the album.

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