Philip Catherine

Guitar Groove

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Belgian guitarist Catherine has had an erratic recording career, bouncing between fusion, rock, and jazz, but his enormous talent has never been in question. This CD probably brings his abilities into clearer focus than previous ones, buoyed by keyboardist Jim Beard, electric bass guitarist Alphonso Johnson, and drummer Rodney Holmes. Catherine wrote all but one of these thirteen cuts, a nice take of the classic ballad "Stardust" with Black on Fender Rhodes. The best tracks are in the front half of the recording. "Merci Afrique" has a groovy beat with ultra-bright chords from Catherine's spare guitar and piano and is a great tune. A chord laden melody on "Sunset Shuffle" is a swing-rock amalgam. Inventive bass/guitar unison on the easy swing of the title track with Wes Montgomery-like chords and a darker ballad, "For Wayne and Joe," are dedicated to Messrs. Shorter & Zawinul, big influences on Catherine in the '70s and through the '90s. As a matter of fact, this rhythm section is Shorter's. There are four sambas; moody, introspective, heavy unison staccato accents inform "Good Morning Bill," while deliberate but breezy dynamics center guitar and piano crisscrossing during "Hello George." A reverential poppish mode sets up "To My Sister," and "Blue Bells" is slow but highly melodic. Four others are pretty tunes. The Rhodes-driven "Chinese Lamp" is Christmasy, "Here and Now" is meditational, and, on acoustic guitar, "Nuances" (not Django Reinhardt's) is a power ballad, while "Simply" is stated sweetly with distinction. Some day Catherine will release the out-and-out jazz recording the world knows he is capable of. This one comes very close.

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