"A Second Look"
The first thing that catches your ear while listening to "A Second Look" isn't veteran jazz guitarist Vic Juris's melodic finesse or harmonic wherewithal, though both virtues are on display throughout this thoroughly enjoyable collection of original tunes and standards. Nor is it the razor-sharp rapport that Juris has developed with his session mates here, a top-tier cast composed of reedman Dave Liebman, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Tim Horner. No, the initial attraction is more fundamental than that. It's the warm, round, enticing tone that Juris coaxes from his arch-top guitar, a sound that helps conjure an alluring intimacy even when the tempos quicken and the harmonic schemes get tricky.
Choosing favorites isn't easy, but the inspired pairing of Juris and Liebman on the album's title cut, the elegantly cool trio arrangement of Cole Porter's "So in Love," and the imaginatively devised, Juris-penned tribute "Dizzy, Trane and You," with its affectionate nods to Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, certainly invite repeat spins. Adding to the album's seductive charm are a few performances that showcase Juris's nylon string guitar artistry, including a hushed and haunting rendition of Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are."
Corey Christiansen is better known in jazz guitar circles as an author of instructional books than as a recording artist, but "Awakening" should boost his profile as a gifted, Wes Montgomery-influenced player. In addition to bringing a fresh and contemporary slant to pop standards (including a lovely, dramatically arching take on "Darn That Dream"), he contributes several original tunes that generate lots of colorful mood shifts and fluid interplay, featuring pianist Per Danielsson, bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Danny Gottlieb.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Friday at the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe.