It’s become obvious to me that a certain style of jazz guitar will never go out of style. Blues-based jazz nuts who can really swing like Wes Montgomery and Grant Green will be around no matter the prevailing tastes. Problem is, some guys get it and some don’t. Some have the soul, and some don’t.
Richie Hart gets it. And man, does he have soul.
Richie’s not new on the scene. Back in the late ’70s he worked with Lonnie Smith. He’s also worked with John Patton and Jack McDuff. That organ-trio influence shines through on plenty of cuts here. The funky “Well You Needn’t” has Hart darting in-and-out of the funk with single-lines, double-stops, and octaves that would make Wes smile. Through the whole thing, Hart’s tone matches his soulful playing. It’s red-hot, but not in the “rock” way. It literally burns. That goes for much of the record. The hard-swinging title cut lets him show off his comping skills behind Pete Levin’s fine organ playing before he takes a solo that navigates the changes nicely. His ballad chops are put to use on a fine version of Coltrane’s “Black Pearls.” He opens things with a marvelous octave solo, and then moves on to an original and inventive solo combining single-line elements with other techniques. His solo open on “Georgia On My Mind” is about as gorgeous as it gets. By the time the band joins in, it’s a bluesy swingfest.
The basic setup here is a trio with help on keyboards and sax. Rick Petrone plays bass and Joe Corsello drums. They help propel the music and Richie. This is one of the best straight-ahead jazz guitar efforts I’ve heard in awhile. The old cliché about meaty music sticking to your bones applies here.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Mar. ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.