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Right On Time

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Album Review

Guitarist Graham Dechter's debut album as a leader could hardly be more charming or enjoyable. He does several things just right: for one thing, he presents a program that demonstrates impeccable taste, nicely combining familiar standards ("In a Mellow Tone," "The Nearness of You") with more obscure fare (Ray Brown's "Lined with a Groove," a nearly-forgotten Johnny Hodges bop number called "Squatty Roo"). For another, he quietly demonstrates his confidence by including a very fine pianist in the quartet — a move that many guitarists' egos would prevent. And for another, he keeps his tempos moderate and his solos lyrical and self-possessed — a sure sign of that rarest of commodities, a virtuosic young guitarist with nothing to prove. None of this is to say that his playing isn't expert or adventurous: he tackles headlong "Squatty Roo" with almost offhand grace and skill, and his playing on a strutting arrangement of "Nothing But the Blues" bespeaks complete self-assurance as well as impressive musical invention. There are a few moments when you wish he would cut loose just a bit, especially on a rather pedestrian rendition of "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues" (on which his solo sounds more like a string of pro forma blues clichés than an original statement), but for the most part, his understatement works beautifully. His solidly swinging take on the Thad Jones composition "Low Down," and his contrastingly gentle interpretation of the Jobim standard "Waves," stand together as bookended examples of both his skill and his taste.

Right On Time, Graham Dechter
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