Ed Littman

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Guitarist Ed Littman is joined here by the ex-Pat Metheny Group rhythm team of Mark Egan and Danny Gottlieb. Littman's semi-dirty guitar sound is much closer to John Scofield and post-'80s John Abercrombie than to Metheny, however. There's a live-sounding spontaneity to Littman's music, especially on "You Mean So Much to Me" and "Chasm," both of which were freely improvised in the studio. But even the more arranged cuts have a certain rawness. Overproduction is definitely not a charge that could be leveled at this fusion-oriented six-string slinger.

"Gospel Light" and "Mustayoostabee" showcase Littman's blues and funk chops, while "Time Is Only Left" and "First One Down Here" explore more spacious, quasi avant-garde territory. Two acoustic guitar features, "Drop" and "Awakening," afford an especially clear view of Littman's harmonic imagination. At the other end of the spectrum, parts of "Lineage" sound vaguely reminiscent of early Van Halen. "Obfuscation" and the lilting yet intense "Little Beth" fall somewhere in between, with Littman employing a chorus-drenched, treble-heavy clean tone.

There's more than enough variety and uniqueness to make this disc a keeper.

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