Jimmy Bruno and Joe Beck - Polarity
  1. How Long Has This Been Going On
  2. Lazy Afternoon
  3. Polarity
  4. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
  5. Eleanor Rigby
  6. Estaté
  7. Summertime
  1. Tenderly
  2. Carioca Blue
  3. Emily
  4. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You
  5. Cherokee
  6. Poem for #15

Personnel: Jimmy Bruno — guitar
Joe Beck — alto guitar
Recorded at Avatar Studios, NYC, December 15 & 16, 1999

Reviewed by Bob Patterson

This CD is significant for several reasons. It is the first time that these two jazz guitarists have recorded together in the duo setting, it showcases Joe's unique 'Alto Guitar', and it shows a new lyrical side of Jimmy's playing.

The guitar duo has been a popular and storied format for recording ever since Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang first got together. The tradition lives on in this CD and is given a large kick into the 21st Century. Jimmy plays one of his Benedetto 7-Strings while Joe plays this custom designed, Rick McCurdy built alto guitar tuned as follows: 3rd and 4th strings up an octave, the other 4 strings down a fifth and the low 2 strings going to a separate output to a bass amp. The whole sound is lightly processed through stereo chorus. This shimmering sound along with Jimmy's bold unadulterated tone give the CD a wonderful sonic contrast.

The playing styles contrast as well. Joe sticks largely to the backup role here, letting Jimmy take the solo spot. But don't discount what Joe does, He sounds like nothing short of a full rhythm section. It took me a full ten seconds into the first track to stop looking for the bass and drum credits in the liner notes! I am well aware of Joe's enormous harmonic palette, having seen his jazz guitar video and heard his 'Live from Salishan' recording with the late Red Mitchell on upright.

Jimmy's playing didn't escape my ear either. All the trademark Bruno-isms are here, but a new thing has emerged: A melodically adventurous and soulfully lyrical aspect. It got my attention right away. His phrasing, attack, everything took on a burnished glow in this recording. That was a wonderful surprise. Maybe not having to play over drums has something to do with it. Anyway, I am excited about things to come from the Philly Flyer.

I am also excited about more from this duo. Guys, do another one! I could go on about the tunes on this record in detail, but listen. Just buy this CD, it's wonderful and inventive example of everyone's favorite format: the jazz guitar duo.


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