Calvin Keys ‘Shaw-Neeq’ (Black Jazz/Snow Dog Japan) 4/5

Guitarist Calvin Keys has cut his musical teeth with some of the finest of soul-jazz combos during the 1960s and beyond and these include Charles Earland, Jack Mc Duff and Jimmy McGriff. It should not come as any surprise, then, that his guitar sound betrays/ owes a great deal to the work of both George Benson and Grant Green, with the latter’s sound especially prominent here. One notable band member is Owen Marshall who fans of the Jazzman label will remember his recently re-issued album as a leader while Larry Nash occupies the electric piano duties with due care. This album from 1973 has more of an esoteric 1970s feel, though very accessible for all that. The mid-temp groove of ‘B.E.’ has a somewhat introspective outlook to it with the psychedelic sounding instrument the hose-a-phone being performed by Marshall. Owens contributes an elongated and expansive guitar solo here. More uptempo and deeply lyrical in its use of a flute/guitar combination is ‘Gee-Gee’ which features some fine guitar soloing. There is an updated take on the more intimate soul-jazz combo on ‘Criss Cross’ (not the Thelonius Monk tune) where Keys has the opportunity to demonstrate his virtuosity and arguably the finest number on the album, the title track, which is a most delicate piece and has long been a favourite of jazz connoisseurs. Echoes of Lonnie Liston Smith abound on electric piano with melodic and relaxing guitar riffs while flute and guitar alternate on the main theme. Tim Stenhouse

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