Impressions - Mike Pachelli
  1. Satin Doll
  2. Swing 42
  3. My Favorite Things
  4. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
  5. Billet Doux
  6. How High the Moon
  1. It's OK to be Alone
  2. All Night Long
  3. What's Going On
  4. Impressions
  5. Road Games
  6. Metal Fatigue

by Dennis Winge

Let's face it: if Wes, Django, Joe Pass, and Johnny Smith were still alive and they all contributed a song or two to a new compilation, we'd all immediately seek it out, right? And what if it went a step further and also had contributions from Kenny Burrell, Pat Martino and even Allan Holdsworth? Well, that would make it even more exciting, wouldn't it? Well Mike Pachelli's "Impressions" delivers all of that with an even more interesting twist - it's a single guitarist playing very well in the styles of all of the above.

In the liner notes of the album, Pachelli is very humble, but the truth is we, as jazz guitarists, love (or at least respect) all those artists and he does them not only justice, but at times takes it a step further. For example on "Swing 42" Pachelli takes 3 choruses of solos - one sounding deliberately like Django Reinhardt, one like Stephane Grappelli and one of his own, and the latter holds up just as well as the masters he imitates. Pachelli recalls not only the gyspy master but also greats like Birelli Lagrene and Philip Catharine.

On the tunes that pay homage to Joe Pass, like "Satin Doll" and "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" we hear all the fast precision, melodic adventurousness and harmonic sophistication we associate with Pass, yet there are times one could mistake Pachelli for Jimmy Bruno or Ron Affif. What's more, as the disc evolves, rock elements are introduced such as the distorted solo in the Marvin Gaye classic "What's Going On?" And ultimately finishes with two not-so-easy-to-cover Allan Holdsworth compositions. What Pachelli illustrates is the versatility of modern jazz guitar, and yet he is very respectful and even reverent to the tradition.

Two tunes in the style of Wes Montgomery give us the expected melodic beauty and octave phrasing, and it is also refreshing to hear how Wes might play on Mike's original composition "It's OK to Be Alone." There are also tributes to the tasteful, bluesy playing of Kenny Burrell and the blistering fast 8th notes of Pat Martino. All of this, supported by a wonderful rhythm section consisting of Baba Elefante on bass and Ronnie Ciago on drums make "Impressions" a wonderful and enjoyable musical outing.

In short, "Impressions" is impressive.

About the author: Dennis Winge is a professional guitarist living in the Finger Lakes area of New York State who has a passion for vegan food and bhakti yoga. Check out Dennis' 3 instrumental albums at his website and drop him a line to say hi!

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