Pete Bernstein Quartet featuring Jimmy Cobb ‘Live at Smalls’ (Smalls Live) 4/5

Guitarist Pete Bernstein belongs to the Wes Montgomery School of modern jazz guitar and this is reflected in both the choice of format and material on this relaxed and highly enjoyable live set of performances, which date from December 2008. Enlisting veteran master drummer Jimmy Cobb, the quartet breeze on the minor Latin theme that accompanies ‘Delilah’ and on the mid-tempo ‘Vida blue’, which affords pianist Richard Wyands plenty of space in which to excel. Bernstein’s own number ‘Sideburns’ reveals a love of the blues. Meanwhile on Miles’ opus ‘Four’ the quartet revert to straight ahead bop with a brisk treatment of the standard. More Wes-inspired licks emerge on ‘Say, little mama, say’ with Cobb playing more Latin polyrhythms and some free-flowing guitar runs. All in all a well-balanced mixture of standards and self-penned compositions and lengthy pieces at that.

Tim Stenhouse