David Boswell got to spend some time studying with Pat Metheny, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette and his transition from rock guitarist to Jazz artist was set in stone. The Metheny tuning and colorful approach is clearly evident in Bowsell’s guitarcraft and his composing.
The Story Behind the Story is Boswell’s sixth album in an ever-growing and ever-evolving discography that brings top-flight musicians to reinforce his moving and meaningful compositions. Eight of the nine tracks on the album are Boswell originals. The only exception is Innocence which is co-written by Jimmy Haslip and Barry Coates. Haslip produced the album.
Jimmy Haslip also sits in on bass for that and two other tracks. Don’t be sad that he is only on three tracks because Bart Samolis takes bass for five other songs and he is remarkable. Also in the rhythm section is MB Gordy on drums (with the sole exception of Gary Novak on Innocence). On piano are the brilliant Mitchell Forman, Scott Kinsey, and Otmaro Ruiz. Andy Snitzer appears on saxophone for two of the tracks.
With a line-up like that, Boswell as leader had better deliver and, good God, does he ever deliver. The comparisons to Metheny’s quartet are a little too obvious, so suffice it to say, if you like Metheny, you will like Boswell.
Boswell plays acoustic, electric, and synthesized guitars and he does not disappoint. Nor does the band.
Harmonic, melodic, indeed miraculous, artistry opens the album with Miraculous. Contemplative and cool, Miraculous is an excellent introduction to all that follows.
Cool acoustic guitar and smoking sax, with sweet tempo changes, are featured on A Los Angeles Minute. With almost a Shadowfax feel to the piece, the play between Boswell and Andy Snitzer’s sax is delicious.
Innocence is fine piece from Jimmy Haslip and performed exquisitely by Boswell, Haslip, Scott Kinsey on keyboards, and Gary Novak on drums. Beautifully written and flawlessly executed.
The Story Behind the Story is a joyful and melodic venture. Such fine guitar work from Boswell on this one with Mitchell Forman’s piano equally rich and textured. MB Gordy is brilliant on the drums and Bart Samolis’ bass is worthy of attention. A beautiful song.
Prayer for the Planet is the lone solo track and Boswell delivers the ballad with beauty and melancholy and hope.
Alta opens in a measured, deliberate tone and tempo before turning loose with a funky bass from Samolis and excellent keyboard contributions from Kinsey. Again, Gordy is masterful on the drums. Then comes the synthesized guitar that makes your hair dance.
The Wind in Her Hair is a romantic tune that Boswell crafts and performs beautifully. Boswell is joined by Haslip, Gordy and, on piano, Otmaro Ruiz makes his sole appearance on the album. Finely written.
Los Olivos is kicked of by Gordy’s drums before being joined by Boswell and Samolis. Gordy needs to be heeded on this track while Boswell lays that sweet electric guitar over it all and Forman is his brilliant self. The whole piece is celebratory and joyous. Love the writing, love the performance.
The album closes with The Sun and the Moon. The simple guitar opening, followed by Haslip’s harmonic bass, creates a meditative mood before the arrival of Andy Snitzer’s rousing sax. Boswell and Snitzer carry it home in extraordinary power and poise.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Boswell is a “poor man’s Metheny.” That’s like thinking Brahms is a poor man’s Beethoven. You would be missing out on a true treasure.
On a personal note, I had just heard of the passing of a dear friend when I decided that writing a review would be the best therapy available to me at the moment. The Story Behind the Story was just what I needed to hear. ~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl