Guitarist Bob DeVos has been on the jazz scene for decades as he worked with such luminaries as Sonny Stitt, Jimmy McGriff and Pat Martino. Recently, he has been a member of Ron McClure’s quartet. But even as he has remained busy with numerous gigs, his recording career hasn’t been as active as his talent deserves. Producer Jack Kreisberg--who has helped Pittsburgh B-3 organist Gene Ludwig receive belated recognition as well--did something about DeVos’ relatively low public profile. He called him to the attention Joe Morabia of the Loose Leaf Records label after Kreisberg heard DeVos performing at a jazz organ summit set up by WBGO-FM announcer Dorthaan Kirk, the widow of "Rahsaan" Roland Kirk. The result is DeVos’ Groove Guitar!,
appropriately entitled right down to the exclamation mark.
Not that DeVos’ style consists of a series of exclamations, for he’s too proficient and low key for that. Rather, the excitement from DeVos’ playing comes directly from the groove, which Ludwig helps establish along with drummer Billy James, who had performed with groove organist Don Patterson and Sonny Stitt. Indeed, all three musicians have remained dedicated to the well-known B-3 organ/guitar sound, made famous by the likes of Jimmy Smith/Quentin Warren or Jack McDuff/George Benson. And the trio’s interests are
in the groove itself, rather than in the entertaining pyrotechnics sometimes associated with Dr. Lonnie Smith or the sonic experimentations of Larry Goldings.
Laid back and obviously enjoying themselves, DeVos’ group breezes through the CD’s 9 tunes selected by DeVos himself based upon his interest in recording them. Varied from Thelonious Monk’s "Round Midnight" to Burt Bacharach’s "The Look of Love," DeVos approaches all of the music with an ease that invites the listener to enjoy the music. From the soulful appeal of Curtis Mayfield’s "Prayin’ for Your Return" to the now-famous vamp of Herbie Hancock’s "Cantaloupe Island," the trio takes all of the tracks at a medium tempo that allows for opportunities to stretch out and explore their inherent melodic possibilities. In spite of the differences in the styles for which the tunes originally were written, DeVos finds the common element of groove to link them all.
His public awareness relatively low compared to other recording jazz guitarists, Bob DeVos has remained steadfast in the essential elements of his style: melodic clarity, logical solo construction, assured confidence, a ringing tone and an irresistible groove on his guitar(!). He certainly deserves the attention that DeVos’ Groove Guitar!
will bring him.