Jeff Golub

Avenue Blue

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It seems like ages since record companies had actual house producers, but Mesa-Bluemoon's Rick Braun seems to be gracing some of the label's most engaging projects these days. First came Willie & Lobo's worldbeat finesse, and now Avenue Blue featuring Jeff Golub, a snappy, fluid guitarist who takes the sharp lilt of Steve Laury into fascinatingly cool textures ranging from hip-hop to atmospheric new age with just enough jazz tradition infused to cross genres. It's a credit to Golub, in fact, that his wide palette of original compositions ring truer than do surefire soul covers like "Pick Up the Pieces" or "I'll Be Around." Braun (who adds his own trumpet flair) allows the sure-fisted Golub to be the star here, keeping the moods potent but slightly understated, even on the Tower of Power-like charts of the best cut, "Gimmie Some." The album's real charm lies in its shifting, unpredictable dynamics, as Golub attains out-there fusion textures just before softening to a Wes Montgomery-like solo pose on the soft-spoken strains of "Moon River." Definitely an auspicious debut.

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