The Harold Arlen composition, "Blues In The Night", is taken at a bluesy relaxed pace featuring some nice strumming from Mark, reminiscent of Jim Hall's laid back style.
My favorite is the way that Mark handles "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", a standard if ever there was one. Just when you thought you heard it all, Mark offers up a tasty treat playing the melody playing some beautiful harmonics over soft accompaniment from the rhythm section. This is the crown jewel from this CD and certainly one of the most beautiful versions out there.
Mark wrote five originals which highlight his writing talent. "The Conflict" opens with Mark leading the way before the rest of the band kicks in for a silky ride of straight Jazz featuring Jay walking the bass throughout while Marks serves up some beautiful sounding runs a la Django Reinhardt. You can tell that Mark loves to play and explore possibilities. So effortless and joyous is his playing. "Pemble's Tremble" begins with Jay Leonhart's bass playing before Mark so eloquently states the melody. Then the adventure begins. Ever searching, Mark progresses into a staccato like improvisation, with some lovely drum work from Dennis. Using various percussion, and accenting at just the right moment to capture the almost hypnotic mood of the piece. "Heartfelt" showcases Mark's beautiful ballad playing. So sensitive on the strings, highlighting each note with emotion and style. Reminds me of Kenny Burrell's playing, and the sensitivity and grace he would bring to a ballad.
Just as Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel and many others before him defined their styles for future generations to learn and listen through classics like his Ellington tribute recordings, so does Mark Elf through his excellent recordings displaying taste, tradition, and style. Lookout for more exciting music from this talented artist.