John Stowell

Golden Delicious

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Pacific Northwest electric and acoustic guitarist John Stowell acknowledges a great debt to his main influence Jim Hall, but has taken that style to a different level on this, his debut recording as a leader, done in N.Y.C. in the summer of 1977. In hindsight, the parallel is closer to his peer Pat Metheny, whose star quickly ascended as Stowell stayed close to home, with an occasional venture outward. Teamed with pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Mike Richmond, and drummer Billy Hart, Stowell's music straddles the line between fusion and neo-bop, with the bright colors of Latin music brushed in occasionally, with the guitarist and pianist splitting chores in writing this all-original program. Golden Delicious deserves more than a quick bite, because this band is truly exceptional, and McNeely's contribution is huge. "Banging the Silent Zero" might be an unruly title, but musically it is a tightly interwoven, complex piece, with welded modal to bop sections but not so intellectual that it cannot be understood. Young trumpeter Claudio Roditi helps out on this one with a solid solo, and adds exponentially to the funky popping Latin rhythms of "Afterburn," where Stowell's linear approach definitely reflects Metheny or John Scofield. More realized in the mode of his peers, the floating to strident melody of the title track in staccato accents and phase-shifted sonics could easily be identified as Metheny-ish. A modern modal 6/8 time signature identifies "Loran Mirage" in a driven and bouncy model similar to Chick Corea. Where Stowell steps into a more individualistic signature on his echoey, rainforest, bird-tinged, loopy sounding texture solo "Filigree In Focus," he's more in tune with himself and bassist David Friesen during "Festival Dance," a prelude to the recordings the two would produce. This recording shows tons of implied promise, and marked Stowell as a new contemporary jazz guitarist worth keeping in touch with.

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