The cover says "New Age" but the very first refrains of the CD purr "Jobim, Byrd, Ellis, Pass, Hall, and Bonfa." Jack Jezzro tackles a collection of standards, waking them back up with nimble fingers and highly considered arrangements in a recital straddling nightclub ambiance, elegant dinner fete, and private back garden soireés. A superb fingerpicker, Jezzro commands the talents of not only the best jazz players but tosses in some extremely finessy embellishments approaching classicalist wonts, even waxing McLaughlinesque at times. The degree of attack and volume mastery sometimes varies almost note to note, limning a great deal of thought and refinement over many takes, and thus the cuts aren't the result of just dashing in and out of the studio. Autumn Leaves is particularly arresting, redolent with an armada of techniques and compositional breakaways, punching up the famed composition without losing a bit of its essence.
Every cut on Solitude is solo acoustic, though you'll swear that's a lie, as the guitarst frequently seems to be cloned from himself, playing duets. Like George Harrison, I'm a sucker for a Hoagy Carmichael composition, so I was nailed as Jezzro undertook The Nearness of You, managing to weld tenderness and exhiliration perfectly. Don't expect any of these tracks to be faithful comps, though, as the guy is constantly bending perimeters while embracing a creative spirit meant to be explored in each tune. "Moonglow" is a great example, bouncing in and out of tempo and melody.
I'm always pleased when some aspect of the music business displays an innovative take on the oft harsh realities of capitalism, but Jezzro's label displays something I've never encountered in all my years of reviewing: if you find yourself unsatisfied with a Village Square Music purchase, you can return it for another item in their catalogue. I don't foresee anyone being in the least dissatisfied with Solitude, not if they like ultra-cool trad string jazz, but Village Square has a hell of a humane approach to their business plan, and many accolades should be ushered their way for both discretion in players and advancement of the business milieu.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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