Andreas Varady's eponymous 2014 Verve debut artfully celebrates the Hungarian jazz guitarist's prodigious skill. A prodigy, Varady has been playing guitar since childhood. Only 17 at the time of this release, he has a fluid, technically proficient style that reveals a love of jazz tradition, both old and new. However, rather than simply delivering a collection of well-worn standards, a task Varady is clearly capable of, here he delves into a batch of modern pop hits and original songs in a contemporary jazz style. Executive produced by Varady's manager, the legendary Quincy Jones, along with David Paich and Jay Oliver, the album fits more into the instrumental smooth jazz vein of artists like George Benson and Lee Ritenour than it does the straight-ahead style of Wes Montgomery, although Varady dips his toe in that tradition here too. There are also fewer Django Reinhardt-influenced Gypsy jazz cuts than one might expect, given Varady's obvious talent for the genre; he certainly nails Reinhardt's "Nuages" and "Swing 42." Primarily, Jones has Varady apply his lithe fretboard chops and deft harmonic ear to songs that will fit nicely on both smooth jazz and instrumental R&B radio formats. To these ends, we get a very Montgomery-influenced take on Steely Dan's "Do It Again," a faithful rendition of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," and a light Latin-tinged reimagining of the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'." Elsewhere, Varady is joined by a few special guests including trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who digs into the sultry Jones composition "Secret Garden," and vocalist Gregory Porter, who brings his warm baritone to the old Louis Jordan number "Let the Good Times Roll."
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar