Dan Adler made a strong impression with his debut recording as a leader, "All Things Familiar", a quintet date featuring tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart and pianist Richard Samuels. On "Back To The Bridge", the inventive guitarist explores a mixture of standards and originals with the top jazz organist of the past 20 years, Joey DeFrancesco.
American jazz has been Dan Adler's main musical inspiration throughout his life. In high school in his native Israel he took lessons from Avri Sharon, a jazz guitarist who had studied with Jim Hall and Chuck Wayne. Seeing guitarist Ray Crawford performing with Jimmy Smith in Tel Aviv was an influential moment in Adler's career as was discovering the early recordings of Joe Pass. Since moving to New York, Adler has worked in jazz clubs, played duo gigs, and performed with many of his musical heroes.
On "Back To The Bridge", Dan Adler, Joey DeFrancesco and the organist's regular drummer Byron Landham explore the classic jazz organ trio format. The interplay and communication between Adler and DeFrancesco make it sound as if they play together on a regular basis, but that is not surprising since they are both masters of the mainstream jazz vocabulary and are natural swingers.
The opening original “Silver And Gold,” a tribute to Horace Silver, has the trio grooving hard from the start with Adler and DeFrancesco taking solos that are full of inventive ideas. “Oh, Look At Me Now,” pianist Joe Bushkin's most famous composition, was a swing era hit that became associated with Frank Sinatra. Listen to how clear Adler's articulation is during his thoughtful solo.
Clifford Brown's “Joy Spring” receives an unusual melody statement that alternates between two different tempos, before it becomes a cooking uptempo romp. “Back To The Bridge” is an Adler original that is a well disguised take on “Have You Met Miss Jones.” His “Good Old Days” is a quirky jazz waltz with a melody that is actually played in superimposed 4/4 time.
“A Beautiful Friendship” starts with an introduction that hints at a New Orleans march before it settles into a medium tempo swing. The lone ballad of the set is an Israeli standard, the somber “Yatzanu At (We Left Slowly)”. Adler's “Between Jobs” is reminiscent of Blue Mitchell's “Fungii Mama” in that it utilizes rhythm changes, has a calypso feel, and is quite joyful. “I've Never Been In Love Before,” taken faster than usual, includes one of Adler's best solos of the project, an improvisation overflowing with creative ideas. The album concludes with Oscar Peterson's “The Smudge,” a medium-tempo blues that includes a memorable guitar/organ tradeoff.
A major step forward for Dan Adler, "Back To The Bridge" is a delight for fans of straight ahead jazz.
Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76