Nick Colionne

The Seduction

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Keith Robinson, JK, Gil Parris, David Frazier...Just in the last year, these smooth jazz guitarists have emerged with solid recordings, each very obviously influenced by the legendary Wes Montgomery and providing their own unique twists on that timeless style. We can add Colionne to the funky side of the list, and appreciate the fact that he titled the snappy, swinging quartet tune "Mr. Montgomery," lest we not catch on. This track is typical of Colionne's approach, beginning with a laid-back melody over Matt Rose's gentle piano harmony before bursting into a more aggressive improvisational bounce over a strolling groove generated by Ron "Thumbs" Hall's sly bass and Felix Pollard's cool drum brushes. Even on jamming pop-funk tunes like the opening "Winelight," the guitarist seems to always be looking for the perfect pocket to put the basic hook line aside and work out a colorful solo in deference to his muse. "34" was inspired by famed Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, and has the effect of trying to sneak through the defensive line, with perky little melody lines offset by sneaky, darting harmonic twists which function as call and response off the main tune. He plays the line, then immediately follows it with a quick improv line that rings like fast-dripping water. Colionne favors the ensemble jam approach to his craft, but shows an equally effective romantic side with "You Go to My Head" (though singing himself on the vocal version was not the best idea). Also immediately attractive is his crisp cover of Steely Dan's "Black Cow," featuring Colionne's sharp licks over a slowly rising, then finally exploding three-piece horn section which captures the frolicsome nature of the original. It's rare to praise a recording for a missing element, but Colionne's decision to forgo the genre's usual reliance on saxophone allows the listener to enjoy a solid update on the classic Wes sound.

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