Coming out of the very legato, melodic school of electric guitar jazz characterized by players like Jimmy Bruno, John Basile, and the brilliant but underrecorded Helio Delmiro (whom he most resembles), Corey Christiansen in his third outing as leader has created something very special. As both an educator and clinician as well as performer and recording artist, Christiansen brings a vast knowledge of jazz guitar history to the table. Yet there’s nothing stuffy or academic about his approach, which generally swings with abandon and often creates striking atmospherics, especially on the intriguing “Sideways,” with its background of ethereal organ and overdubbed snaky slide guitar, and the gentle ballad, “Kaiya’s Dance.”
The band absolute nails the bloozy numbers “Your Way,” “Roll with It,” and “Half Pay” that typify guitar/organ combos, imbuing them with ringing authority even as they deconstruct, stretch, and reconfigure this often hackneyed soul-jazz music. It’s hard to pinpoint who’s primarily responsible, as everything hits on all cylinders: the locked-down tight ensemble playing, Christiansen’s stinging solos, the subtly brilliant comping of Bianchi on B-3, the soulful sax of Haliday, and Jorgensen’s tasty mayhem on drums. Bianchi’s playing deserves special credit. Too often in sessions like these, organists tend to steal the show with flash and bombast. Not here. Instead, Bianchi conceives of his role primarily as dialogic, with an approach not unlike that of his illustrious contemporary, Gary Versace.
Finally, this group sounds like what that great 80s band Azymuth might have become if they’d brought on Helio Delmiro as a regular and continued to develop along the lines of their masterpiece, Telecommunication.