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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Album Reviews: Joel Fass - Melody Messenger & Jam for Eddie Diehl


Born and raised in the Carnarsie section of Brooklyn, jazz guitarist and composer/songwriter Joel Fass has been playing for nearly fifty years. The range of his experience coupled with his love for American Song is demonstrated fluently throughout these "exemplary" recordings. Fass has played with the likes of Eddie Diehl, Bob Dorough, Bill Takas, Chris Anderson and Hadda Brooks, to name a few.

Melody Messenger is a solo guitar outing featuring a wondrous variety of popular songs from the 1930s to the present. Willie Dixon's My Babe, Harold Arlen's Last Night When We Were Young and Gershwin's Lady Be Good  comfortably rub shoulders with Stevie Wonder's Lookin’ for Another Pure Love and Lennon/McCartney's Because. Who'd a thunk it but it works.

For good measure, Fass has also resurrected a few lesser known Broadway gems like Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle, Charles Strouse's Once Upon a Time and Cy Coleman's When in Rome. All excellent jazz vehicles for improvisation with distinctive melodic character. Fass has also added a compostion of his own entitled Shelter - welcome indeed. The lyrics of which are published in the liner notes (just in case any aspiring vocalist would like to give it a whirl, Joel adds...) All of which are given unique and distinctive treatments in the guitarist’s creative hands with original and effective chordal reharmonisations.


Jam For Eddie Diehl welcomes the talents of two guitarists duo-ing with Fass - Sheryl Bailey and Ray Macchiarolla. Both of whom rise to the occasion with aplomb with their perceptive and supportive accompanying. Their sterling solo turns also sparkle.


Another pleasantly variegated batch of American tunedom prevails including Ellington's Reflections in D, Dizzy's Tin Tin Deo, Bird's, Buzzy all easily hobnob with Izzy Baline's (Irving Berlin) What'll I Do?, Stevie's Blame it On the Sun and Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, for cryin out loud! A most welcome inclusion are three Fass originals, two of which were "on the spot" inventions between him and Macchiarolla. Clothed with catchy, droll titles like E's Minor, Ah's Grow'd Up and Your Call Is Very Important To Me lend this disc some humour and light heartedness that is also such a winning feature of Fass' character and persona.


The liner notes on Melody Messenger include some very complimentary quotes and testimonials from leading NYC jazz guitarists on Fass's efforts. These include Gene Bertoncini, James Chirillo and Peter Bernstein.


All of which are more than backed up by "what it says on the tin" as they say. A very impressive recording debut from a talented and experienced guitarist and bodes extremely well for future releases. We look forward to the next one - sooner than later, please.

Frank Griffith


Exemplar Records - No recording dates listed

2 comments :

joel fass said...

Thank you, sir.

I did want to mention a few things:

1. Old pal Bobby Lenti did a first-rate job recording and editing us at his Lansdale, PA home studio.
2. Guitarists Freddie Bryant and Kevin McNeal provided fine notes for the Diehl Cd.
3. Jams for Eddie Diehl has as last track the man himself, live in trio with Bill Takas, bass, and Bob Dorough sitting in on piano---Zinno, NYC, 1983. It was fitting he have the last word, so here he is stretching out lovingly and swingingly on Charlie Parker's Buzzy.
4. Melody Messenger was recorded over 11 years, mostly at Bobby's studio, from 2008-2019 (Last Night When We Were Young was done on a student's no-name acoustic which sound I liked in 2008, BOYA Studios, NJ...

Joel Fass said...

Jams for Eddie Diehl was recorded in 2017, except for Reflections in D, 2019...

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