Mark Elf

Over the Airwaves

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Elf's latest recording is mostly comprised of standards, but four of the cuts are originals dedicated to jazz radio programmers -- thus the title. The guitarist is appeciative of the help he has received exposing his music, and these tunes are the first wave of several he hopes to write for these dedicated broadcasters. Not that he'd have trouble getting airplay anyway -- his full-bore, linear motives and flash-point, choppy improvisations mark him a brilliant player that one simply has to notice and appreciate. Drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. is particularly fiery for this date, while bassist Jay Leonhart works effectively in this mix with Elf. The standards include two solo efforts, a half-speed, patient take of "Blue Moon" and a more deliberate 2/4 "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," on which Elf plays non-overdubbed basslines mixed with deft chords and witty single lines. A solo, chordal intro to "Lush Life" leads to a full-bodied trio sorting of this timeless classic, played very faithfully. Elf's Latin side is covered by the easy bossa chock full of chords on the Elf-penned "Mr. Suave," and the bubbling samba-to-swing -- with the drummer right on -- of "By Myself." A unique, swirling, fingerstyle arrangement of "Love for Sale" has Elf at his...most elfin, wittily wrapping a three-note progression over the rhythm section's steamy beat. "The Cookie Maker," a Keebler reference in regards to Elf, is frantic bop, feverish and hard-swinging, based on "Cherokee," where the guitarist dives into a purely maniacal solo. The tribute tracks are "On @ KLON," a kinetic, jumping linear melody with Peterson on fire; "TGEG Blues," an active 12-bar swinger with a hefty bass solo and trading of fours with an up-for-the-challenge Peterson; the Latin-flavored "Erv's Curve," and an easy waltz "In Three for Bob P.," featuring another Leonhart solo with in the background hip vocal accents a la Slam Stewart. The program ends light and easy on "Stormy Weather," with Elf again using more chordal accents than usual. Elf is consistently very good. His trio pushes him to that level and holds him there throughout this fine effort. Recommended, with hope you'll also check out his previous recordings which are equally as fine.

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