Denny Jiosa

Among Friends

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The slick electric guitarist is among some very supportive, high-profile friends on his latest release showcasing his post-Wes Montgomery style in a smooth jazz-easy funk-dash of blues context. Kirk Whalum's always soulful sax dances harmony lines around Denny Jiosa's cool melody line on a lyrical tribute to the latter's young son called "Nic of Time." Chester Thompson comes in monstrously on the drums at times, but shows admirable brushing restraint on tunes like "Nic of Time." Harlan Rogers provides ample key support throughout, but goes into especially high gear on the wily "Spider Dance," providing a moody blues organ foundation and an occasional piano harmony behind Jiosa's crisp lines. And percussionist Glen Caruba joins with Jiosa on "Gottatude" in stirring up an explosive Latin jam as flugelhornist Hollie Farris wails in the background. Ironically, however, according to the liner notes, the "friends" Jiosa is referring to in the album's title are his rack of Gibson guitars, all illustrated but not detailed in the notes. No big deal for the average fan, but guitar enthusiasts might have enjoyed knowing. As attached as Jiosa is to his strings, it's clear that he's a big believer in teamwork and he has no problem letting some of his pals in on the solo action. The only strange misstep is his vocal on a pleasant but average cover of "I Only Have Eyes for You," but he redeems himself with a brief but colorful guitar improvisation. Overall, electric guitar-oriented smooth jazz doesn't get much better than this.

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