Following up 2012’s Formanism, West Coast jazzer Bruce Forman delivers another set of dazzling guitar-trio bop, harkening back to the postwar era of Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, Herb Ellis, and Jimmy Wyble.
If you want to hear Forman barnburning, cue up “The Song Is For You,” an uptempo romp filled with 16th-note runs that would make Tal Farlow smile, as well as crisp chord work and bowed standup-bass solo from Alex Frank. “You Go To My Head” is another tour de force, with multiple tempos and exemplary ensemble work. The dynamics alone are thrilling, from soft and lilting to full-on jazz virtuosity.
“Shanghai” swings joyfully, Forman intermixing a complex melody with his masterful chord-melody work. Indeed, the guy can improvise with chords better than most other players execute single-note solos.
“Ray Brown’s Bass” is a tribute to another West Coast hero, here with a softly swinging groove and mega-tasty improv. Bruce also overdubs a second guitar part that provides wonderful counterpoint to the slow bluesy vamp.
In all, there’s nary a poorly chosen note here, and Forman once again shows what a national treasure his guitar playing is. This is classic jazz guitar, and unapologetically so. Grab it with confidence.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s December ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.