Ron Affif Trio - Ringside
  1. If I Were a Bell
  2. Don't Make Me Pull That Tongue Out
  3. Love Walked In
  4. Farewell
  5. Uncle Joe
  6. I Should Care
  7. Alone Together
  8. Holly

Ron Affif - guitar
Essiet Essiet - bass
Colin Bailey - drums

Produced by Eric Miller
Recorded before a live audience in Fantasy Studio "A," Berkeley; February 13-15, 1997.

JGO readers who remember my review of Ron's earlier CD Vierd Blues remember my complaints about Ron's guitar tone. Well let me say that Ron's tone has never been better than on this latest CD. Trading his Gibson Johnny Smith in for a Buscarino Monarch, as well as recording this one live in front of an audience, worked wonders.

This CD is definitely Ron's finest to date. The opener, "If I Were A Bell" comes out of the gate roaring. Ron is at his blistering best here. The tune, recorded by Miles in the early 60s, gets a fresh coat of paint at the Trio's hands. They follow up with an Affif original "Don't Make Me Pull That Tongue Out" (something Ron's dad used to say), that swings in a bluesy, sassy manner. "Love Walked In" feels like a Joe Williams/Count Basie groove, and Ron makes the most of it. Another original, "Farewell" indicates something about Ron's compositional thinking. Chromatic, lyrical, and subtly ironic. It will be fascinating to see how he matures as a writer. "Uncle Joe", Ron's homage to Joe Pass, sounds like a Wes Montgomery romp, complete with octaves and intervals. The great standard "I Should Care" is done as a waltz here and it fits. In this tune I hear shades of Jimmy Bruno in Ron's sound. "Alone Together" is done as I think it should; fast and swinging. "Holly", another original and the album's closer, is an evocative solo piece that has a modern twist.

The quality of the recording is superb. It's easy to hear what everyone's talking about. Essiet Essiet and Colin Bailey play beautifully behind Ron, who (if he hasn't already) certainly put himself on the map with this one. Recommended!

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