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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

CD Review: Thomas Maintz - Present

Thomas Maintz (electric/acoustic guitars); Scott Colley (bass); Jonathan Blake    (drums)
(Review by JC)
I am a big fan of jazz guitarists, particularly when they play acoustic guitar as well, and so was keen to listen to this album. Thomas Maintz is a Danish guitarist whose last album This is the Colour.. .released in 2009 garnered many positive reviews and was nominated for 'Best Danish Jazz Album' at the Danish Music Awards. This latest recording Present was made in New York with a couple of fine musicians, Scott Colley and Johnathan Blake.
Ten of the twelve tracks are written by Maintz, and the other two are Very Early by Bill Evans (which gets a rather meagre running time of 2.51) and If I Should Lose You by Robin/Rainger (allocated a more generous 6.58).
All the members of the trio are clearly excellent musicians and they give the album a highly polished quality. Maintz produces many melodic runs and plenty of warm chordal backing but only on some of the tracks did I feel that the music moved up a gear. One of the most successful is New York Butterfly where Maintz plays with more attack and the bass and drums demonstrate their jazz chops as well. The Bill Evans tune, Very Early, is another fine piece - short but perfectly formed - and Secret Hallway, which is dedicated to Jim Hall (who is clearly a big influence), has a rich mellowness and much of Hall's expressive qualities. Interestingly the bass player Scott Colley, has also played with Hall.
On the acoustic tracks, Maintz plays a baritone guitar, which the notes say 'gives the compositions a dark, warm sound' and this is undoubtedly true. The tone and texture of these tracks is delicious but the pacing is quite slow and sometimes I would have liked a more dynamic quality in the guitar playing.
Rightly, everyone in the trio gets plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their considerable musical abilities and Scott Colley embellishes many of the tracks with fine solo touches. But it is the drumming of Jonathan Blake that really stands out. No matter what is happening around him he continually produces a range of exquisitely timed and perfectly appropriate fills and trills, whizzes and fizzes, rings, dings and kerchings, bips, bops and bams which are constantly inventive and engaging.
Present is released by Beach Farm Records in collaboration with Gateway.
JC.

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