Dave Askren: Some Other Things (2006)
This new release by Los Angeles-based jazz guitarist Dave Askren is his second album in four years with a small ensemble cast. In his first, a trio tribute to Bill Evans titled Re: Bill Evans, Askren recorded with bassist Mike Flick and drummer Steve Sykes. Some Other Things brings together Flick, drummer Jon Nathan, Askren and saxophonist Jeff Benedict to form the Dave Askren Quartet. Interestingly enough, both recordings are missing a basic rhythm instrument that's common in most musical settings: the piano. While the music is not unconventional and is generally arranged to feature Askren's guitar in most cases, a piano-less quartet, though quite good, doesn't usually have the same luster or soothing rhythmic tone you find in a piano background.
There are nine tracks of contemporary jazz with sprinkles of bossa, bop and light blues in a primarily mid-tempo, flowing set. Except for the Jerome Kern standard "The Song Is You," all of the tunes are Askren originals. The opening "P.M." starts off with a Benedict tenor intro that Askren follows in a bossa-flavored mode. "Tres Chic" is a relaxing waltz where Flick's bass solo leads up to some rapid guitar runs by Askren. "Translucent" is a more mainstream jazz number where Benedict blows some of his most torrid solos. The title cut, "Some Other Things," is a terrific bebop up-tempo chart that highlights the crisp guitar work of the leader.
The guitar and the sax play companion choruses in the lazy blues "More Or Less." Askren keeps the lead on a spirited string solo on "The Song Is You." "Dit Dat," at over ten minutes, is a bit long for my taste but it does offer a respectable drum solo by Nathan. Maybe the best is saved for last: on "Ella's Dance," both Askren and Benedict combine delicious solos in a finale dedicated to Askren's two-year-old daughter.
Some Other Things is a selection of medium tempo music with sparks of shoulder-moving beats and rhythmsdespite no keys from the piano. Askren delivers an interesting contemporary sound, supported by the outstanding playing of saxophonist Benedict and the rest of the ensemble.
Track Listing: P.M.; Tres Chic; Translucent; Harry Haller; Some Other Things; More Or Less; The Song Is You; Dit Dat; Ella's Dance.
Personnel: Dave Askren: guitar; Jeff Benedict: tenor & soprano saxophone; Mike Flick: bass; Jon Nathan: drums.