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A Jamais by Joshua Breakstone

Albert Einstein was once asked how many observations were needed before it was safe to make a generalization about a particular phenomenon. He replied that two times were preferable, but that one could draw conclusions from only one occurrence. Now, if a genius working in a hard science like physics could feel free to display such a cavalier attitude toward his work, just imagine what those of us working in the more subjective field of jazz criticism get up to. So when I say that I've listened to Joshua Breakstone's CD A Jamais several times now, I think it is safe to say that my motivation in so doing must owe at least as much to my own enjoyment of the music contained therein as it does any quest to gain further critical understanding thereof.

Recorded in France with Louis Petrucciani on bass and Joel Allouche on drums, Petrucciani leads the group through ten mostly bebop originals and adds a solo reading of Bud Powell's "Hallucinations." Allouche rides the cymbals in the manner of a Billy Higgins, but uses a heavier hand at times on the drums. Breakstone's style is at once classic and fresh, recalling somewhat the early Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino, but drier and less bluesy with more midrange than bass or treble tonally. Even where the music ventures into somewhat blue territory, as on the ballad "Tomorrow's Hours," Breakstone manages to evoke the blues without invoking guitar cliches. Though Breakstone is takes the only solo turn here, the cut is noteworthy for the excellent introductory bowing from Petrucciani.

Breakstone is a canny and clever composer. You would think that there isn't much left to be done in bop with "Cherokee," but the guitarist's clever reworking "Taken for Granted" manages to find something new to do with it. A Jamais is one of those timeless recordings that sounds like it could've been recorded at any point in the last forty years without sounding stale. Fans of bop and jazz guitar will want to have this one.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joshua Breakstone
  • CD Title: A Jamais
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Capri
  • Rating: Four Stars
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