Judging by its title and the cover photo depicting Newcomb and his bass playing son Jake, the main sales pitch of this release is the inter-generational familial team-up. Nothing especially new here though; think of those other offspring who have graced their father’s records: Mercer Ellington, the three Brubeck sons, Alec Dankworth, Gabriel Garrick and Clark Tracey. But the real selling point, at least for guitarists, is of course the unalloyed virtuosity of Newcomb senior.
This is the follow-up to Newcomb’s previous album Living Tribute (Essential Messenger, 2017), recorded with the late legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. Newcomb’s approach is both harmonically rich and melodically fluid. This combined with a crystalline tone makes for compelling listening. Newcomb junior is equally talented, frequently offering some lithe, resonant pizzicato bass solos as heard, for example, on Oscar Pettiford’s Tricotism.
Whilst he has studied jazz guitar with the likes of Pat Martino, Howard Roberts, Jack Wilkins and Mark Elf, Newcomb has also clearly been influenced by Wes Montgomery as evidenced by the shimmering octaves he employs on tracks such as the self-penned Essential Messengers and Soirée. There’s a nod to Monty Norman’s famous James Bond Theme on P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri’s quirky Secret Agent Man. But, as would be expected on such a straightahead recording, there are some timeless standards such as Nacio Herb Brown’s evergreen You Stepped Out Of A Dream and Jerome Kern’s sprightly The Song Is You.
As with the other five Newcomb-composed numbers, the title track is elegant both in arrangement and execution and in common with all the titles here, the recording quality is superbly well balanced. Whilst this is by no means a ground-breaking session – nor is it intended to be – it is, nevertheless, executed with considerable skill and panache.
You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Essential Messengers; Cliffhanger Blues; Love, Dad; Tricotism; Soirée; Secret Agent Man; Hearts In Suspension; Love Intentionally; The Song Is You (65.21)
Newcomb (elg); Jake Newcomb (b); Thomas Royal (p); Dave Marsh (d). Gainesville, Florida, 23 February 2020.
Essential Messenger Records EM32021