While building one of jazz's most impressive all-star résumés as a session cat supreme, electric guitar master Joe Beck -- who has kept company with Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Paul Desmond, Maynard Ferguson and David Sanborn, among others -- has also amassed a solid discography of solo discs including notable efforts in the '80s and '90s on DMP. His third disc on Whaling City Sound features mostly covers (all but two are recognizable jazz and Great American Songbook) standards, but his sense of invention on these all but makes him a co-composer. The creative centerpiece is the colorful, multi-movement ten-minute opus of "Alone Together," which features his daring, often bristling improvisation over a hypnotic bass/drum groove that changes tempo every so often. While the piece will mostly appeal to hardcore fusionheads or guitar lovers, there are many other cuts here that seem designed for the more casual, melody oriented jazz fan. "Impressions" is seductive and melodic, about as coolly funky as organic jazz can be. "Laura" is given a lighthearted, almost breezy treatment, while "My Romance" swings elegantly. Beck's own "A Little Blue" is gritty yet accessible, a lot like some of Larry Carlton's early-2000s pop-blues work, while his other original, "Dancing to San Xavier," proves that he's also a romantic songwriter. This is inventive post-millennial fusion at its best.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran