You'd think, wouldn't you?, that a cat who grew up on Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Fripp, and any psychedelic fretbender I could lay hold of would not be quite the choice for grooving out on jazz stringsmeisters. I mean, as much as such well-beyond-the-norm rockers themselves may have in common beneath all the distortion, those cats didn't exactly resurrect Kenton or Ellington, now did they? Yet the very first time I heard Grant Green as a youngun, that was it, it was all over, and I sought out the jazzbos too. Then I caught Benson's early catalogue and it was off to the races again. Montgomery followed, Szabo, and many more besides (including John Abercrombie on the shred side in the practically unknown Friends combo with Mark Cohen). Thanks to all those cats, I got RIGHT into Martino and Metheny when they popped up in the record racks.
This resurgence, then, of the older jazz guitar mode—though, actually, Jimmy Bruno, Vic Juris, and a number of others have been carrying things under the radar for quite some time in between—is all too welcome. Bob DeVos and his Shadow Box, the fifth CD from the guy as a leader, join a very estimable and increasing crowd. Not only that, but he, like Abercrombie, loves pairing up with a Hammond B-3 and writes specifically with that instrument in mind. Thank God he kept to a trio format for that reason (with sax sit-ins by Ralph Bowen) 'cause the listener gets puh-lenty of his clean poetic chops on their own and then in combo with Dan Kostelnik's keyboards, Steve Johns manning the rhythm section (Kostelnik comps when not soloing or dueting).
DeVos is another one of those players who eschews anything but pure notes: no tremolo, no hammer-ons, nothing but perfect playing, each note singing out fully. Often, that approach is the perfect foil for Bowen to blow some zippy convoluted sax lines, tangled up and glorious. Kostelnik slides between the two, sometimes smooth and rollin', other times getting his crazyface on. DeVos has appeared with a long list of greats over the years—Stitt, Crawford, McGriff, Earland, and others—and was one of the few to recognize early what a futuristic player Larry Young was, so, even though he himself revels in the Mesozoic Era of jazz, he's solidly nailed into what's gone down since, and the two fuse quite nicely here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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