IN A BLUE MOOD
by Ron Weinstock
Frank Kohl The Crossing
Originally from New York, guitarist Frank Kohl currently resides in Seattle. Early inspirations included Wes Montgomery and the original Tony Williams Lifetime that he saw live. He studied at Berklee at the time John Scofield and Pat Metheny were there. His early career was based in New York before moving to San Francisco and then Seattle. This is his fifth album and finds him joined by John Stowell on guitar and nylon string guitar, and bassist Steve LaSpina.
Kohl is a wonderful straight-ahead bop guitarist with an agile, clean attack and tone. Kohl is complemented by Stowell’s beautiful nylon string guitar, whether Stowell comps under Kohn or taking some delightful single-note solos. There are many notable selections, including the Jobim-penned “”O Grande Amour,” and the delicious swing of “The Masquerade is Over.” With LaSpina laying down the rhythmic axis, the Kohl and Stowell each exhibit the nuances of their technique as well as the well-crafted solos. Kohn’s own compositions also showcase his and Stowell’s own conceptions such as the title track, and a lovely ballad “The Goodbye” that illustrates each player’s craftsmanship. Then there is a scintillating rendition of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays,” and an effervescent Kohl original, “Middle of Nowhere.” The latter tune is built around LaSpina’s buoyant bass motif. Another Jobim gem, “Brigas Nunca Mais,” closes this album. Both guitarists display a delicate touch with their interlacing fingerwork with LaSpina adding some rhythmic accents on a superb bossa nova performance.
This drummer-less trio provides for an intimate feel as well as allows the clarity and every nuance of each guitarist’s playing to shine. Kohl is a first-rate guitarist as well as a composer of note, which is on full exhibition on the excellent “The Crossing.”