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Rinnova Review

by Ken Dryden

The trio Scenes, consisting of guitarist John Stowell, bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer John Bishop, had been working together for nearly a decade by the time of their second recording session. Johnson and Bishop are very familiar from working with one another in pianist Hal Galper's trio as well, while Stowell is a refreshing change from guitarists who hog the spotlight with busy solos, opting instead to make ample use of space. Johnson contributed five originals. "Chariots for Anthony" is a relaxing jazz waltz. "Behind the Scenes" features Stowell on nylon-string acoustic guitar, with the composer playing a tense arco line in its introduction before it segues into a deliberate bossa nova-flavored ballad. No explanation is given for the title to Stowell's "Fun with Fruit" or his "Laughing River," though the former is a campy mix of styles (with Johnson switching to electric bass), while the latter is an extended post-bop vehicle that best displays the terrific interplay of the trio. Johnson is back on electric bass for their interpretation of Hermeto Pascoal's "Little Church," with Stowell making a delayed entrance on acoustic guitar. Throughout the session Bishop's sensitive drumming keeps things moving. Hopefully, Scenes will have more frequent opportunities to record in the future, as twice a decade is hardly often enough.

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