New York guitarist Doug Munro has been around the jazz scene since the 1980s. He’s released a number of recordings as a leader, as well as appeared on over 30 other recordings as a sideman, producer or arranger. He’s been nominated for two Grammy and two NAIRD awards, and he was the orchestrator on the Oscar winning documentary When We Were Kings. As a noted jazz educator he has had three books on jazz improvisation published by Warner Brothers and served as Director of the Jazz Studies Program at SUNY Purchase from 1993-2002.
Big Boss Bossa Nova 2.0 finds Munro working in a stripped down session with just a bassist, Michael Goetz, and Jason Devlin or Jason Anderson on drums. Being placed in such an open ended ensemble format allows Munro a little more freedom than on his 2004 Big Boss Bossa Nova release. The result is freer, but lacking a little of the fire of the first session.
Highlights include "A Day At The Races," a Munro original. His solo brims with tango influenced and inspired lines that crackle and literally pop out of his instrument. It’s as if the ideas can’t get out fast enough; they don’t stand in line, they jump forward and rush headlong for hearing. Anderson doesn’t light the fire under Munro as much as react to the electricity going on around him. The result is the best cut on the disc.
"Devil’s Haircut" is an interesting choice for inclusion. The ensemble whips themselves up to propel the ostinato-based arrangement into a solid groove as they really get behind Munro’s guitar-synthesizer assisted solo. The use of the new color is perfect and Munro flashes his ample technique in accompaniment of this new sound.
Some of the other work on the disc seems a bit undernourished. Chick Corea’s often covered "Spain" doesn’t find new territory, and the same can be said of Freddie Hubbard’s "Little Sunflower." Munro has always been an artist who has been well respected within the music community without getting the wider recognition his talents deserve. While this disc will not change that, hopefully more guitarists will discover him through this disc.