Along the Way

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Along the Way is the follow-up release from Seattle trio Scenes, previously a quartet. With the departure of tenor sax player Rick Mandyck (due to health issues), the trio consolidate to the core of guitarist John Stowell, bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer John Bishop. As such, the sound suddenly becomes a bit more bare, without the strong lead presence provided by a sax. With what could otherwise be a rhythm section, the trio puts together an impressive set on a series of Stowell and Johnson originals. The sound is somewhat exploratory and introspective, picking musical directions seemingly by feel and intuition. The band works together well enough that improvisation sounds planned, with no departure from the tight accompaniments. Stowell's guitar is kept minimal, generally in the lead but without making itself too ornate. Johnson's bass stays in the background for the most part, providing exactly the amount needed and nothing more. Bishop's drumming, as always, stays in the background when it should, but accents when the music seems to call for it and comes to the forefront for extended passages on the cymbals from time to time. The compositions are good, but the playing and interplay are really the stars of this one. For a quick peek at the sound of Seattle's jazz club vibe, Along the Way delivers well.

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