Guitarist Nick Granville has a lengthy history, starting out as a rock guitarist in his native New Zealand and then moving on to becoming a highly successful session musician. He can be regularly seen on New Zealand’s TV program "Dancing With The Stars," performing with Chris De Burgh at Mission Estate, or with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Granville is also featured on numerous soundtracks and TV theme songs such as "Fair Go" and "The Breakfast Show." Currently, he teaches jazz guitar at the New Zealand School of Music, but he also acts as bandleader for the Nick Granville Group. Wishful Thinking is the group’s debut album, and it hoists a collection of original material that utilizes contemporary jazz motifs, chamber-jazz orchestrations, and vanguard pieces that stretch the imagination into uncharted territories of jazz music.
The group’s jaunt into whipping conflagrations are deeply pronounced in "Taste Sensation" garnished with Alex Nyman’s vivacious saxophone twirls and Granville’s exasperating guitar rotations. The groovy bass beats of Rowan Clark lining "Mr. Brown" play a prominent role in this track as the drum solo from Darren Mathiassen gives this number its vanguard edge as Nyman’s saxophone peeps in and out of the melodic frames like a row of beanstalks springing out of the ground. The group turns up the soft romantic valves on their instruments along the smooth cruising riffs of "Mei" and "Ngawi," and then coasts into the fusion encampments of "Somewhere You’ve Been" as Granville’s guitar chords spike the edges with a series of jagged cuts. This explains why aspiring rock guitar students seek Granville for guitar lessons. The whistling sounds of the saxophone cool the track into a contemporary jazz setting with swerving lines and climatic elevations, which settles down into a dreamy aria of gently wandering saxophone spins and comfy grooves in the title track. If there is one song that all audiences will gravitate to, it is the title track and it’s tenderly lit shimmers. "Play It Again" has a scat character with a Cheshire Cat wiggle in Granville’s guitar riff, and a smooth jazz-slant in the rhythmic grooves. The group moves around on this track, venturing into quickly lit saxophone flames and laid back guitar patterns emblematic of scat-jazz.
The Nick Granville Group prove to be quite adept at creating harmonies that climax and release in unison. The wavy shapes of their compositions have a vanguard edge, and their dreamy soundscapes give jazz a heavenly feel. For a debut outing, Wishful Thinking is fit to impress veteran jazz artists.