GUITARS IN FRONT…Albare: Only Human, Brad Myers: Prime Numbers, Hugo Fernandez: Cosmogram, John Tropea: Gotcha Rhythm Right Here

Once upon a time, the defining jazz instrument was the trumpet; then the tenor, then alto, then piano, and nowadays the dominant instrument seems to be the six stringed axe. Here are three albums that feature the guitar in divergent lights.

Moroccan guitarist Albare teams up with Aexl Tosca Laugar/p, Yunior Tery/b and Pablo Bencid/dr for the most guitar dominant album of the three. He shows his clean bop chops on “The Tale” and mid-tempo-ed “Nightly News” while he gets a bit of latin grooving on “Gravitational Pull.” He brings in a fusion mix successfully on “How Two Live” and the rocking “Lonely Planet as Bencid bears down, while gentle cymbal work and graceful piano musings work well with Albare’s acoustic guitar on “Royal Beach.” Funky and chunky chords are felt on the title track while his lyricism wins the day on “Round Trip.” A nice prism of sounds from the strings.

Brad Myers brings his electric guitar to lead a team with Chris Barrick/vib, Ben Walkenhauer/ts, Peter Gemus/b and Tom Buckley/dr for some bouncing and swinging material. He shows his allegiance to all things Monk by delivering a joyful “Evidence” that snaps like dry twigs and then with his own “Spherical” which has a clever military beat provided by Buckley. Extra horns by Dominic Marino/b and Michael Mavridoglou/tp creat a pastoral journey on “Rule Of Threes” while Mavridoglou’s horn fills in with the sly and latin groove on “There Is A Space For Us.” Myers himself is gracious and meloidic on the gentle “The Big Push” and subtle and suave on “Bentley’s Blues”  Walkenhauer’s tenor and Barrick’s vibes create a nice hip atmosphere that swings well on the upscale “Invitation” and easily grooving “Sunset In Curacao.” Very impressive team effort.

Guitarist Hugo Fernandez defers to tenor and soprano saxist Ariel Bringuez quite a bit here on a quartet session along with the energetic rhythm team of Antonio Miguel/b and Antonio Sanchez/dr. There’s a bit of a tribal war dance drum beat on as the team sounds a bit indie-rockish on “Reconciliation” and there’s a rockish beat on “Sublime” that features Bringuez’s soprano. Restless undercurrents provide a stimulation for Fernandez’s clean solo on “Metro” and some rich flavors also come out on the Indian-directed “Grounds” that has Bringuez and Fernandez sounding like their taking you to Central Asia. Complex lines mix with charging rhythms on “Unbalanced” as the tenor and guitar vie for control of the reigns, while the closing “Yap” shows the sublime side of the two leads with plaintive picking by Fernandez.  Intelligent session.

Then, you’ve got guitarist John Tropea going from modern fusion as on Part 1 of the title track to sounding like the rhythm guitarist for James Brown’s Fabulous Flames on this hip shaking session. He teams up with a smoking sax section that riffs until the sun rises on “Soul Surfin” and the funky “NYC Direct.” 70’s Philly soul has some snappy saxes on “7th Avenue South” while a Memphis stew is simmering on “Side By Two.” A touch of Benson burns on the disco-ish “Back Eye’d G’s” and the second part of the title track has some hip vocals by James Williams. A disc made for dancing shoes.

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