Monday, August 8, 2011

Brent Canter: Urgency Of Now

Brent Canter (guitar)
Urgency Of Now (Posi-Tone Records; 2011)
Seamus Blake (sax)
Adam Klipple (organ)
Pat Bianchi (organ)
Jordan Perlson (drums)

I really have gained a deeper appreciation this year for the guitarist. In recent months I have continually stumbled onto guitars who are either constructing something new through the instrument. Or creating a whole new vibe through their compositions.

These artists are also not making themselves the story of their sessions. It's the group and the tunes that's important. Not the histrionics of how well the artist has learned form their studies or history. Now with another guitarist spending time in my CD player, I am again blown away...everyone, meet Brent Canter and his stellar new album, Urgency Of Now (Posi-Tone Records)

The L.A. native has studied under Kenny Burrell but what he has learned is to tell the story gently, through the eyes of the composition and the instruments will follow. And while his mentor is felt throughout Urgency Of Now, "Meet Me Halfway" for me had elements of both the adventurous-ness of Pat Metheny and astral folk of Ralph Towner. There is a bold yet quiet sense of optimism in Canter's playing that softly invites the listener in and then the rest of quartet join in, painting the perfect picture.

The organ work by both Kipple and Bianchi (on selected tracks) is understated and Canter's compositions don't allow the instrument to overtake the groups overall mission on each track. "Meet Me Halfway" is lovely in tone and the group are rise to the challenge as the piece moves forward. Changing tempos from bluesy-soul to midtempo ethereal harmonics thanks to Bianchi on this number. Great stuff.

"With Eyes Closed" raises the game and attitued of group. It's a fierce, jagged little groove that allows the musicians to stretch and improvise a little bit. Seamus Blake and Adam Klipple sounds terrific and full of life throughout. It puts a smile on your face and a nice two step in your shoes. Canter is a bit more reserved here filling in the patterns just underneath the dynamics of the group until midway through in which he display a great deal of soaring chords that show he's  learned a lot not just from Burrell but probably the music of John McLaughlin as well.

The title track closes out the session with group turning the spotlight on its leader. Here you get the full understanding of Canter as a craftsman. The playing is solid, tight and full of emotion. Bianchi and Perlson have a few great moments but they both pull back for leader to shine when needed. "Urgency Of Now" is the obvious highpoint of the record but it is also tells everyone this artist is for real.

Urgency Of Now is only Brent Canter's second album but it is one that come with quality and craftsmanship. It's been a year of some wonderfully talented guitar albums, but Canter is making a case that we need to pay attention to all of them on various different levels. They are not all the same. They so far have been quite refreshing and eye opening. Urgency Of Now delivers a midpoint opening that fans across all stages of music will hopefully gravitate to this year.

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