In the tradition of pioneers Les Paul and George Van Eps, Steve Herberman, like many of his contemporaries, has moved to the seven-stringed guitar, allowing him to play chords and basslines as well as avoiding using a pick. Herberman lives and performs in the jazz-fertile Washington, D.C., area. The play list he has chosen for his initial album is a mix of his originals and familiar materials for which he has a special affinity and connection to. Thus "I Wish I Knew," which Herberman heard as a young man and grew attached to, is here because of earlier versions by Blue Mitchell, John Coltrane, Jimmy Rowles, and Howard Roberts. "A Smooth One" recalls the classic Charlie Christian/Benny Goodman version, although Herberman takes it at about half the speed those two used. "Smooth" and "light" are good ways to describe Herberman's technique. Irrespective of tempo, there's no strain and no contrivances, as inventive chordal structures played on top of string basslines come out of the big guitar with ease. Herberman's grooves come across on such cuts as "Nobody Else but Me" (where his instrument has an especially fat sound), his own "Extended Chorus" (where his fingerpicking is emphasized), and a flowing, highly romantic "Laura" (where he shows he understands the effect space can have). Washington, D.C., offers new artists like Herberman a full choice of excellent playing companions, and he has chosen wisely for his debut album. His rhythm of Victor Dvoskin and Dominic Smith both have good ears and anticipate well where the guitar is going. Bruce Swaim shows up from time to time on tenor, adding some striking contemporary licks. This is a fine first effort and is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan