Russell Malone – Time For The Dancers (2017) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Russell Malone – Time For The Dancers (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 49:13 minutes | 1 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Booklet, Front Cover | © HighNote

With this, his third outing as a leader on HighNote guitar master Russell Malone returns with his talented quartet, featuring the potent pianism of Rick Germanson, the solid underpinnings of Luke Sellick on bass, and drummer-extraordinaire Willie Jones III. Malone possesses phenomenal technique, a warm luminous tone, an innate sense of swing, and his distinctive chording. The set consists of a wide range of songs including funk, ballads, uptempo hard bop performances and even a pop tune and a TV theme. Malone varies the instrumental textures and tone colors throughout to reveal his considerable inventive melodic art. This latest recording is further proof that Russell Malone is one of the top guitarists in jazz, here backed by his superb trio of masterful musicians.

If 2016’s All About Melody showcased Russell Malone’s love of a good melodic song, then 2017’s Time for the Dancers finds him building upon that sentiment and celebrating his affinity for sweet, rhythmic grooves. The guitarist’s third album for High Note, Time for the Dancers is a fluid, engaging production that finds Malone straddling the line between urbane, acoustic jazz standards, earthy funk, and virtuosic balladry. Helping him achieve this superlative balance are longtime bandmates pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Luke Sellick, and drummer Willie Jones III. Together, they play with the kind of nuanced interplay and sensitivity that come with years of live performance – which they have. With his acoustic, hollow-body guitar and warm, un-effected sound, Malone comes off as a grounded, no-nonsense musician; a swing-friendly progenitor of straight-ahead jazz and standards. All of which is true and evident here. That said, he’s also an incredibly soulful improvisationalist with a wide-ranging ear for all kinds of music. What’s so invigorating about his approach is just how seamlessly he is able to incorporate all that he hears into one gorgeously realized style. In that sense, he brings to mind a balance of such elder luminaries as Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, and yes, George Benson. From the buoyant and dreamy, ’60s-influenced title track to the bluesy twang of “The Ballad of Hank Crawford,” Malone grounds the proceedings with his steady, rhythmic swing and perfectly timed attack. It’s a skill most evident on his funk-infused homage to his longtime friend, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, on “Leave It to Lonnie.” Centered on a tasty bass riff, the song finds Malone slowly building his groove-based solo, weaving in bits of crunchy atonalism and deliciously bluesy asides. Elsewhere, he applies an equally compelling energy to Jose Feliciano’s breezy “Theme from ‘Chico and the Man’,” and a poetic, gorgeously rendered, classically influenced solo take on Billy Joel’s ballad “And So It Goes.”

01 – Time for the Dancers
02 – Leave It to Lonnie
03 – The Ballad of Hank Crawford
04 – There’ll Be Another Spring
05 – Pocket Watch
06 – Theme from Chico and the Man
07 – And So It Goes
08 – Little B’s Poem
09 – Flowers for Emmett Till

Produced by Russell Malone. Engineered by Mike Marciano.
Recorded on February 28, 2017 at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
Mixed and Mastered by Katsuhiko Naito.

Russell Malone – guitar
Rick Germanson – piano
Luke Sellick – bass
Willie Jones III – drums