A leading light in the Mid-Atlantic jazz scene for a number of years, guitarist and composer Carl Filipiak pays tribute here to some of his influences, as well as showcasing his own renowned compositional talents. He opens Looking Forward Looking Back with "One for Wes," a Wes Montgomery homage that incorporates lots of the latter's patented octave melodies and also, even more importantly, pays tribute to Montgomery's mighty sense of swing. A bossa nova-flavored arrangement of the John Coltrane standard, "Giant Steps," may sound to some like an exercise in musical blasphemy, but it really works quite well here, and the faint hint of smooth jazz oiliness in Filipiak's tone gives it a gently ironic edge that may or may not be intentional. Filipiak takes a powerfully funky approach to Charlie Parker's bebop classic "Au Privave," giving it a relaxed but dynamic setting that recalls some of the early albums of Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band. Filipiak's own "Blues-a-que" is an attractive but ultimately unremarkable study in blues form, but his "Chasin' the Checkbook," which closes the album, is a breathtaking barnburner of a modern bebop composition, one which finds Filipiak and tenor saxophonist Paul Soroka chasing each other all over the chart with infectious glee. As this album demonstrates, Filipiak is a guitarist and composer deserving of much wider recognition than he is currently getting.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson