While the recording equipment may be vintage, the music is fresh and contemporary. Having appeared on over 30 albums as a sideman, Live to Tape is Alex’s second album as a leader and his first for Nick Finzer’s Outside In Music label.
Four of the seven tracks are written by Alex himself and the three covers are tightly arranged for the trio. The cover of Herbie Hancock’s Textures is lyrical and perfectly transcribed for guitar. The funky-swing is spot on and Baron and Macbride deliver beautifully. Annie Clark’s What Me Worry is a soulful instrumental that allows the guitar to sing as plaintively as the original vocal version. Michael Leonard and Herbert Martin’s I’m All Smiles is from the 1965 musical The Yearling. Alex’s warm guitar is splendidly captured with the bass and drums. Good stuff all around.
You going to love Alex’s original compositions. He starts with Idris, a sweet and quirky head-bobber that is captivating from the opening bars. On a Summer Day allows for a very melodic drum introduction to set up the cool guitar and bass passages. It is a contemporary take on some of the old Jazz guitar masters and it is so fine.
Ely, MN is set in the Minnesota city on Shagawa Lake and nicely captures the feel of the place with its Jazz clubs and affection for Jazz. It is one of the most demanding tracks on the album and Alex, Dave, and Jimmy are in top form for those precise runs, with Jimmy getting a memorable drum solo.
The last of the originals is Cadeques with its leisurely, even reflective, pace and tones. You have to love the brushes and bass contribution to the effect of the piece. Cool chords changes and bent notes create quite the atmosphere in the song.
All of Live to Tape is summed up with the word warmth, from the recording equipment to the compositions and arrangements to the performances. The sound of one-take live-to-tape recording is exquisitely rendered by three artists who know each other so well and fit together so very well.
Live to Tape is both a harkening back and a heralding forth to what great guitar trio Jazz brings.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl