nd very superficially -- Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel could be described as an Iberian classicist, a Texas blues picker and a Charlie Christian disciple. Each is, respectively, that and much more. Last night at Charlie's they combined their collective century-plus of performing experience in a convincing justification of their decade-long billing as the Great Guitars.
The breaks, the trading of twos, the coattailing and the unison melodic lines fell neatly into place, and that is as it should be; but the tidiness and precision are only a frame for the loose and often wild free-for-all that the trio can pull off without a hitch on such numbers as "Get Happy," "When the Saints Go Marching In Samba" and Hoagy Carmichael's "New Orleans."
Ellis fired off some twanging Southwest notes that arced out over the diners' heads, drooped and just hung there. Kessel bopped apart the soul of Charlie Shavers' "Undecided" as though he had written the tune. Byrd's several Latin features blended the blues with the baroque.
Attention throughout was on the three in the front line, but they never would have gotten past the starting gate without the now-driving, now-subtle support of bassist Joe Byrd and drummer Chuck Redd.
The quintet stays through Sunday.