Roland Guerin

You Don't Have to See It to Believe It

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For his fourth album, bass player/composer Roland Guerin adds new members to his group, with John Ellis and Brice Winston alternating on tenor sax. As in previous releases, Guerin's music dominates the program, accounting for nine of ten tunes. With roots in the marvelous hard bop sessions of the 1950s and 1960s by Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Hank Mobley, and other artists from that fertile period, Guerin nonetheless puts his own artistic imprimatur to this blowing session. Guerin's compositions promote interesting and imaginative performing. Typically there is a chorus or two members of the ensemble playing written charts. Then individual members improvise on the theme as the spirit moves them, and it moves them considerably on each track with well-conceived and moving stated solos. Ellis is heard to advantage on an upbeat "Let's Play," which also is a vehicle for some serious bass playing by the leader. "Trust, Trust Jesus" is a paean to the Almighty with the soprano sax of Derek Douget as the major supplicant, getting plenty of help from acolyte Peter Martin on piano. The most time for any track is given to the one composition not written by Guerin, "I Can't Get Started," where the group takes more than eight minutes to explore the song's chord structure for extemporizing opportunities. Opening with a mesmerizing bass/piano duet, Winston rides in with his tenor sax to offer his thoughts on this classic standard. Clearly the intent was to make this a showcase track, an objective successfully achieved. Another treat for the listener is exposure to Guerin's one-of-a-kind acoustic six-string bass guitar, which he plays here in addition to the usual upright bass -- one more reason to recommend this album.

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