Code Red Cloud Nine
Moderne Shellac Records
As a guitarist, Richard Bennett is the best of all possible things; a modest, immensely skilled and empathetic player who is at home with the West Coast semi-bebop to A-list pop music session work. He even recorded with T-Bone Walker.
On the 12 original instrumentals here, his jazz side is on display, and it better illustrates his clean, unaffected style and tone. The expected guitar influences show up, of course - Kessel, Montgomery, Christian... but someone with Bennett's all-encompassing taste and talent and experience couldn't be expected to draw from only one well. As a composer, he sources Burton Lane ("April By Twilight"), Harold Arlen ("When Connie Used To Care"), Duke Ellington ("Spring Stepped In"), Henry Mancini ("En Trois"), and Dimitri Tiompkin ("Right On The Price, Right On The Corner"). But he does it with a gleeful originality and without a touch of snobbery, gracing "Connie" with a bluesy air and putting a trace of Santo and Johnny in "Samba Soleil." Best of all, Bennett and his hand-picked ensemble (especially Jim Hoke on an array of reeds) swing - gloriously - from one end of this fine collection to the other. - RA