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Almost Almond by Samo Salamon Trio

For the last ten years or so, guitarist Samo Salamon has been making a name for himself throughout the European jazz market as an inventive improviser, composer and leader of diverse small group ensembles, often featuring American notables such as saxophonists Mark Turner and David Binney. A tireless self-promoter, the Slovenian native has been creating a buzz with critics and fans of jazz guitar. His latest release, Almost Almond, is an inticing trio release sure to further the guitarist's reputation. The eleven-track disc of Salamon's original pieces was recorded in Switzerland in 2006 with the aid of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey.

As a composer, Salamon has a penchant for combining written parts with free-form sections as a foundation for improvisation. "My Amazing Muse," for example, begins with a rhythmic, Latin-inspired structure before an abrupt transition into a dreamy landscape of arco bass and arpeggiated guitar. Similarly, "Dutilleux," named for French compose Henri Dutilleux, has a wide interval theme developed by guitar and bass before Salamon delivers stinging jabs of distorted raunchiness. The overt intensity is nicely countered with the more lyrical, flowing piece, "Pleiades," featuring the meaty gracefulness of Gress' bass.

It is Gress who introduces the moody "Lastovo" with a tone that is warm and welcoming. The lengthy piece proves an ideal setting for guitar, bass and drums to interact in an open dialogue that is brooding, yet playful. The good-natured interplay continues on the short and clever piece "The Small Buddhist" and the airy "The Ladybird is Yawning."

As a soloist, Salamon is able to lend solid technique to an imaginative array of spontaneous moods. His style is grounded in the sound of modern jazz with unique characteristics, unbounded by the traditional confines of his instrument. Much like his contemporaries Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder, Salamon is forging ahead with a new standard of jazz guitar that is accessible and beyond established categorizations.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Samo Salamon Trio
  • CD Title: Almost Almond
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Record Label: Sanje
  • Rating: Five Stars
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