Joshua Breakstone

A Jamais

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Joshua Breakstone has never been the most groundbreaking guitarist in the jazz world, but when it comes to making bop-oriented recordings that are pleasingly solid, he usually comes through. Breakstone's chops are impeccable, and even though he is essentially a '50s-minded traditionalist, the guitar virtuoso isn't afraid to think outside the box when it comes to choosing material -- the fact that Breakstone has interpreted a country-pop tune (Willie Nelson's "Crazy") and provided a bop tribute to '60s surf rockers the Ventures (1991's Walk Don't Run) speaks well of him. Those who enjoyed his '80s and '90s output should have no problem getting into A Jamais, which was recorded during a visit to France in 2003 and finds a 48-year-old Breakstone forming a trio with two France-based musicians: bassist Louis Petrucciani (brother of the late pianist Michel Petrucciani) and drummer Joel Allouche. Clearly, Breakstone doesn't buy into the hysterical anti-French hate-mongering that was all over Fox News and American talk radio in 2003, and by recording this CD in Valflaunesse, France in 2003, he did his part to say "Vive la France" and pump some American dollars into the French economy. Not that A Jamais is meant to be any type of political statement; Breakstone's only agenda is a musical agenda, and the guitar trio format serves him well on this album. Breakstone employs no pianist on A Jamais -- strictly guitar, bass and drums, which is just as well because he shines in a trio setting. The guitarist is unaccompanied on his pensive "Chanson des Cevennes" and Bud Powell's "Hallucinations" (the only song on the CD he didn't write), but most of the time, Breakstone is joined by Petrucciani and Allouche -- and both musicians do their part to make A Jamais an enjoyable addition to his catalog.

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