Imagine, if you will, that you're inside of a small, dark and smoky jazz club sometime around 1959. It's 2 a.m. and there's maybe six other people in the crowd at the most, so the trio on stage is taking the opportunity to experiment. The upright bass player and the drummer are flawlessly providing the rhythm, but it's the guitar player who's really stealing the show. Watching him, you're reminded of Les Paul. Or maybe of Carl Perkins or Hank Garland. In the end it's all futile, because while the man on stage has certainly been influenced by all of those folks and more, he's created his own unique style that is eerily familiar, yet excitingly fresh.
Over the course of their set, this trio performs a couple of bluegrass staples like "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" (the guitar picker trades his guitar for a banjo on this one and, while he's no Earl Scruggs by any means, he gets the job done), rockabilly numbers such as "Be-Bop-a-Lula," and jazz and blues standards like "Lonesome Road" and Ray Noble's "Cherokee." The funny thing is that none of this sounds out of place; all of these tunes retain elements of their original style, yet are also injected with large doses of jazz, country, blues, and rock and roll.
This melding of styles is even more prevalent on the six originals the trio performed that night, in particular the film score-like "Far Noir East," the self-explanatory "Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown," and the Scotty Moore-influenced "Pickpocket." Occasionally, they stuck to one style as on the hard-rocking "Go-Go Godzilla" or the jazzy "Intermission," but even on those numbers eclecticism crept in.
You sit through the entire set, enamored by the musicianship coming from the stage and in particular the guitar player. When the music stops, you leave the club thinking to yourself, "Damn, I wish somebody had recorded that."
Then you open your eyes and realize that it's 2011 and you've been listening to the new Brian Setzer album. You get up and hit the play button again. ****
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