There's little about guitarist Nat Najar's solo debut, Jazz Impressions
to hint at his roots in blues-rock jam bands. Instead, there are echoes of his jazz heroes, players like Barney Kessel and Django Reinhardt, in his softly swinging traditional style.
"There are," he informs, "no avant-garde sounds that can be harsh to the listener...," and he certainly holds true to that promise. With the understated support of bassist Joe Aromola and drummer Dan Crowley, the young Floridian moves from electric to classical acoustic instruments as he offers an even textured set of mid-tempo standards, with a pair of inventive original tunes in the mix. The danger of this kind of set is the ever present possiblity of lapsing into the kind of loungy "cocktail jazz" that's barely jazz at all - if at all. The antidote to such an ill, of course, is creative vision and the skill to fulfill it, which Najar happily has.
Though he's young, and late to come to the jazz scene, Najar has clearly spent some productive time in the woodshed, and while his music has a comfortable familiarity, the music on Jazz Impressions
provides a fine reminder that a traditional approach needn't be a dated one and that the reason songs become standards in the first place is that they're so good in the first place. No matter how many time you may have heard Reinhardt's "Nuages," by how many players, there's always room for one more if it's a good one. In this case, it is, as are the other ten tracks Nat Najar provides on his self-produced debut.