9 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The guitarist Steve Cardenas is mostly known as a sideman: he’s played with old school giants such as Jay McShann and Claude “Fiddler” Williams, modern masters like Paul Motian and Charlie Haden, and many others. In 2010, the Kansas City-rooted, New York-based Cardenas released his third solo album, West of Middle, where he’s backed by bassist Ben Allison and drummer Rudy Royston. Cardenas’s playing is an organic mix of jazz, blues, and rock, and there’s a lyrical quality to his work, which combines various timbres in sensitive, subtle ways. Judging from the eight originals that appear on West of Middle (the album also includes Keith Jarrett’s “Blue Streak”), he’s a good composer, too. The intriguing “Burt” features a subtle, bluesy solo by Cardenas as Royston creates a rhythmic churn behind him. Recalling James “Blood” Ulmer, “Roundup” manages to be both rootsy and out. The title track possesses a memorable theme, which the band renders with a great sense of spaciousness, and the slow-tempo “Drifter” wouldn’t sound out of place on a compilation of post-rock instrumentals.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The guitarist Steve Cardenas is mostly known as a sideman: he’s played with old school giants such as Jay McShann and Claude “Fiddler” Williams, modern masters like Paul Motian and Charlie Haden, and many others. In 2010, the Kansas City-rooted, New York-based Cardenas released his third solo album, West of Middle, where he’s backed by bassist Ben Allison and drummer Rudy Royston. Cardenas’s playing is an organic mix of jazz, blues, and rock, and there’s a lyrical quality to his work, which combines various timbres in sensitive, subtle ways. Judging from the eight originals that appear on West of Middle (the album also includes Keith Jarrett’s “Blue Streak”), he’s a good composer, too. The intriguing “Burt” features a subtle, bluesy solo by Cardenas as Royston creates a rhythmic churn behind him. Recalling James “Blood” Ulmer, “Roundup” manages to be both rootsy and out. The title track possesses a memorable theme, which the band renders with a great sense of spaciousness, and the slow-tempo “Drifter” wouldn’t sound out of place on a compilation of post-rock instrumentals.

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