Friday, January 20, 2017

Jazz guitar mastery and heartfelt moments

Guitarist Larry Coryell, Russell Malone and Nate Najar teamed up Thursday, January 19 for an evening that showcased their individual styles and common ground as players. The concert, billed as the Great Guitars of Jazz, was held at the Venice (FL) Performing Arts Center.


Larry Coryell
Coryell, Najar, Malone

It brought together guitarists from three generations. Coryell, 73, best known for his fusion work with a variety of groups in the 1960s, offers so much more than that. He has considerable stylistic range as a player and composer, ranging into modern, straight-ahead jazz to classical music. 

Malone, 53, toured with organist Jimmy Smith, and singer-pianists pianist Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall, among others, in his career. This straight-ahead jazz player works blues, gospel and R&B feelings into his clean melodic lines. 
Russell Malone

St. Petersburg-based Najar, 35, is a rising talent greatly influenced by the late Charlie Byrd. He swings mightily on his acoustic classical guitar. In addition to leading his own bands, he has also been filling in for Greg Carmichael on tours by the English contemporary/smooth jazz band Acoustic Alchemy.

Nate Najar
The three guitarists performed four jazz standards together, trading ideas back and forth with their respective solos. Each also was featured in two-tune segments in which they performed alone or with just the night's ace rhythm section: ex-Duke Ellington bassist John Lamb and drummer Mark Feinman.

Highlights included two tips of the hat to past jazz guitar greats. The three guitarists collaborated on a beautiful version of Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt's best-known composition, "Nuages," with Coryell shifting to an acoustic guitar to give his sound more of a Spanish/Romany tinge.
Feinman, Malone, Lamb

During his spotlight segment, Coryell dedicated his take on "In a Sentimental Mood" to Jim Hall, choking up a bit as he described the late guitarist as "a peerless musician and the finest man I ever met." 

Najar, performing with Lamb and Feinman, dug deep into Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova "Corcovado." Malone opted for a masterful solo guitar version of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," followed by a trio take on "East of the Sun and West of the Moon."

The full band brought the night to a powerful close, swinging and roaring through Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove." 

The concert was co-sponsored by the South County Jazz Club and The Venice Institute for Performing Arts.
Coryell, Feinman, Najar, Lamb, Malone





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