Having earlier reviewed the sax/guitar CD by The Matthew Finck Jonathan Ball Project (It's Not that Far, here), I was more than ready for Dave Askren and Jeff Benedict's It's All about the Groove, as the slab is soul brother to that disc, a mostly mellifluous boppy post-swing affair. Of course, there's also the sinfully sensual—as in the duo's take on the classic Nature Boy, quite a different interpretation from George Benson's—and the energetic toe-tappin' Holmes, but chiefly these guys favor the down-lo half-past-beatnik approach.
Askren tends strongly to old school mannerisms a la Kessel and Montgomery by way of Martino, and Ball has played with Phil Woods, Brubeck, Gary Burton, Wynton Marsalis, and others, so his street cred's as solid as poured concrete. Both wax explorational in Monk's Mood but never take off the shades or sandals, as cool as cool can be. I once unexpectedly met Les McCann at a house party in the San Fernando Valley many years ago, and when you talked with the guy for a bit, you began to understand why he composed as he did. Askren and Benedict have captured that in Dave's McCannisms, a happy, garrulous, hopping, skipping dance of a song.
Like the Finck/Ball CD, The Groove is based in a straight-ahead matrix but takes many liberties and even starts getting briefly fusiony in places (Askren has a strong liking for Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, though those influences only just peek out in passages), but, really, this is the sort of music you'd have headed to Soho or Greenwich Village to hear back in the day, later taken to dives and cafes, now sadly all too absent in far too many parts of the country. My advice, then, is to listen to the disc on a sunny afternoon with a big glass of lemonade and a little something alcoholically extra in it, or to play it in the evening, dash some bourbon on a glass full of ice cubes, and then toss the afternoon lemonade down the sink 'cause you're going to be more intellectually frisky by then.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles