Mark Elf

Liftoff

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Mark Elf's 11th release for his Jen Bay label is a lively studio affair. Joined by some of New York's most in-demand session musicians, including pianist David Hazeltine (who has extensively recorded on his own), bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Lewis Nash, the guitarist kicks off with his explosive "Liftoff," a miniature reworking of John Coltrane's "Countdown," though he adds a slightly slower alternate take at the end of the disc. He switches to baritone guitar (which has sort of a country sound) for the boppish "Deception Blues," which is also a variation of "Countdown" as well as utilizing the 12-bar blues form, showcasing a fine solo by Hazeltine as well. "Left Hand Corner" is an imaginative variation of Clifford Brown's "Daahoud" that features several drum breaks by Nash and terrific interplay. Elf's lyrical side is displayed during the solo introduction to the standard "I've Never Been in Love Before," though it turns into a cooker as the rhythm section joins him. Mark Elf may not be the best-known jazz guitarist around, but the energy within his music can lift anyone's spirits within a track or two.

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