Thursday, April 1, 2010

Graham Dechter: Right on Time

Capri Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 4.1.10
Buy CD: Right on Time

Once in a great while, after listening to just the first 16 bars of the first track, I know an album will be a winner; such is the case with Graham Dechter's inaugural release.

At 23, Dechter is a young guitarist; even so, during the few years of his career he has managed to become a part of the jazz fraternity's upper echelon. He was a member of the famous Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at 19: the youngest member of that great organization. That feat automatically led to Dechter's association with top artists across the country: Name a current, famous jazz artist, and Dechter undoubtedly has played with him (or her).

This album's quartet is an example: Dechter is backed by former Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra mates John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums) and Tamir Hendelman (piano).

The result is one of the cleanest, “swingingest” small groups I've heard in months. The majority of tunes here are familiar jazz standards, which makes it possible to equate this group's quality against that of others who've performed the same songs. I can't think of another group that did these charts better.

These guys lay down a beat that just swallows you up. Every one of the 10 tracks is great, but a few deserve special mention: the old Johnny Hodges tune, “Squatty Roo,” is a burner that'll take your breath away; Duke Ellington's “In a Mellow Tone” and “I Ain't Got Nothin' but the Blues” really rock; and “Right on Time,” written by Dechter's father, is particularly moving.

Dechter himself is a top-drawer guitarist; his tone is crystal-clear, his technique impeccable and his solo work inventive.

I want to hear a lot more from him and this group.

No comments: