Guitarist Adam Rafferty, an advocate of "new traditionalism" in jazz, has expressed that advocacy on a series of albums on which he has put his stamp on standard material. But as early as his second record, Blood, Sweat & Bebop, he was starting to mix in his own originals, and it may have been inevitable that he would at some point turn in an entirely self-written disc. That's what he's done on Three Souls, its title referring to the presence of his trio, which here includes bassist Danton Boller and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Even though the tunes are all new, Rafferty remains a traditionalist, coming up with such numbers as "Blues for Wes and George," in reference to influences Wes Montgomery and George Benson, and "Tempest," which annotator Ian Brand acknowledges is "reminiscent of Coltrane's 'Impressions,' but with a few added twists and turns." Still, doing his own music allows Rafferty to expand the range of his influences to include, for example, '70s funk in "Bootieology," which includes a quote from Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star," and "Blues for My Shoes," in which Brand hears Oscar Peterson, at least as far as the arrangement goes, though others might note a similarity to certain of Henry Mancini's jazzy TV and movie themes. The typical problem for a jazz musician in making a transition from outside material to originals is one of structure, and it's a problem Rafferty doesn't solve the first time around. While his trio plays together well, they are essentially improvising over chosen patterns and tempos rather than creating identifiable compositions here.
Three Souls Review
by William Ruhlmann