Choose One, the self-released, first jazz record by Denver guitarist Ryan Fourt, is a charming collection of straight-ahead, bop-oriented jazz. Of the eight tunes, Fourt composed three, sideman Shilo Stroman one, and the rest are a mix of standards.
The title track, “Choose One,” opens the record with light-hearted bop. While the title connects well with the cover art, showing Fourt with guitar in hand at a fork in a wooded road, the title for this tune could also come from the fact that alto saxophonist Dustin Drews flirts with some not-so-light-hearted screeching and wailing, as if he wants to take the tune in a new direction. However, the band chooses to hang with the original melodic and rhythmic core.
“Eighty One” is a mellowed, slower version of the Ron Carter/Miles Davis 12-bar blues original recorded by Miles in 1965 on E.S.P. The solo choruses open with Russ Kerschner warming us up on the B-3, followed by Fourt with a very nice extended solo, swinging hard with a lyrical line until he closes up with some syncopated block chords. Drews picks up from there on alto with a nice spin of his own, until the tune dissolves out with a quiet restatement of the melody.
The rest of the record offers a selection of jazz and blues with fine solos and ensemble playing. A highlight is the Fourt original, “Solstice,” a slow blues built on the changes to John Coltrane's “Equinox.” Fourt builds a great solo, from a smolder to a dancing fire.
Fourt's guitar studies included a stint with the same man, Dale Bruning, who taught jazz guitar to the great Bill Frisell. With Choose One, Fourt takes that excellent training and steps into the spotlight as a promising, young jazz guitarist for the next generation of jazz fans to enjoy.