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Review "Heading North"
"Heading North"
The U.K.'s String Jazz caught Jack Wilkins and Jimmy Bruno in England at the same time and decided to record them under the mantle of a quartet led by Wilkins. That's misleading because Bruno is as prominent as Wilkins, and the settings range from solo performances to quartet. Whatever, the outcome is an album to be enjoyed by jazz guitar fans in particular and jazz lovers in general. This is not the only time these two have performed together. In 1997, they were together at the Benedetto Concert on Long Island, NY, named in honor of master guitar builder Robert Benedetto. The synergy they developed then is even more highly honed here. "Voyage" is high-energy stuff with Patrick Illingworth's drums calling the shots on rhythm. Wilkins' clean guitar lines contrast with Bruno's fondness for chords and octave playing as the latter's adherence to the big-toned electric tradition is evident here and elsewhere. This burner is tempered by cooler playing on such sweeter cuts as "Give Me the Simple Life," where this time Bruno kicks off the melody with Wilkins taking a later chorus with matters concluding with friendly chord trading. One of the more startling cuts on the album, "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," starts off as if it were from the pen of Telemann, Vivaldi, or some other Baroque composer, before seguing into a medium tempo where each shows dazzling technique and speed. There are times on this cut where one wonders whether a third guitarist was snuck into the studio. Their respective bop upbringing come to the fore in Denzil Best's classic "Move." This album captures two veteran jazz guitarists at the top of their form, both completely confident of their mastery of the instrument and the music they have chosen to play on it. Recommended.