John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet
Bassist John Patitucci has few peers when it comes to doubling on the acoustic upright and electric variations of his instrument. However, he utilizes only a Yamaha electric semi-hollow six-string on his latest release, Brooklyn, an homage to his hometown. Still, the album, recorded by his Electric Guitar Quartet, with guitarists Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas, presents an overabundance of six-stringed instruments, especially during the lower points of an 11-song roller coaster.
The disc gets off to an adventurous start. On Patitucci’s evocative medley “IN9-1881/The Search,” drummer Brian Blade’s bomb-drops set the stage for his bandmates’ interweaving lines. Rogers was half of a twin-guitar lineup with David Gilmore in the underrated 1990s fusion band Lost Tribe. His interplay with Cardenas sizzles on Patitucci’s surprisingly bluesy, Allman Brothers-influenced funk vehicle “Band of Brothers.
In contrast, a cover of Malian vocalist Oumou Sangare’s “Dugu Kamalemba” spins in place more than it entrances. Versions of Thelonious Monk standards “Trinkle Tinkle” and “Ugly Beauty” serve as vehicles for Patitucci’s admittedly jaw-dropping solos but sound empty compared to the original versions by their unorthodox piano-playing composer. Ditto Wes Montgomery’s “The Thumb,” a novelty piece to display its transposition from guitar to bass, and a curious cover of the classic spiritual “Go Down Moses.”
Some of Patitucci’s own compositions sound more focused. On “JLR,” he and Blade form a stomping cushion for the guitarists. And the bassist’s intro solo on “Do You?” borrows the form of the jazz standard “I’ve Got Rhythm” to approximate a Charlie Parker saxophone solo (shades of Jaco Pastorius on Bird’s “Donna Lee”). But other originals — the impressionistic “Bells of Coutance,” the balladic “Tesori” — contribute to the album’s scattered feel during a session that might have been better served live. —Bill Meredith