Jimmy Bruno

Midnight Blue

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In something of a departure, guitarist Jimmy Bruno leaves straight bebop largely behind on this release, cultivating a more funk-oriented, electric sound instead. He is joined by the well-regarded fusion bassist Gerald Veasley, as well as pianist Dave Hartl (who doubles on Rhodes and Hammond organ), saxophonist Ron Kerber, and drummer Marc Dicciani. Bruno's intention was to get away from playing standards, although he opens with a retooled "Secret Love" and ends the session with "Perdido," "Stella by Starlight," and "Impressions." The bulk of the remaining material is written either by Bruno or Kerber, with Veasley contributing the straight-up funky "Philly Joe." Some of the music strongly recalls early George Benson and Pat Martino, although the chorus-treated sound that Bruno uses on several tracks has him sounding a bit like John Abercrombie or Vic Juris. While there are a number of fairly strong tunes -- the waltz-ballad "First Dance" and the ethereal "Shades of Grey," the acoustic-oriented swingers "Into the Blue Light" and "Midnight Blue" -- the album gets stuck in a no-man's land somewhere between jazz and fusion. The reworked standards come across as aimless, although Veasley's overdubbed solo bass treatment of "Stella" is a nice, unexpected touch. Bruno's tendency to play fast and ahead of the beat proves a liability on numbers where a laid-back funk pocket is paramount. (Strangely, the leader's "Hypertension" has a recurring break that sounds quite like a figure from Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son.")

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