Guitarist Dave Haskell has been a prolific member of the San Francisco Bay Area jazz scene since the early 1970's, but in recent years he's spent more time as a commercial pilot than creating music, so his return here on Pivot Point is more than noteworthy. He's resurrected his Dave Haskell Group, featuring keyboard player Dan Zemelman, bassist Aaron Germain, and drummer Alan Hall, as well as brought along a few guest, such as guitar legend Robben Ford, Yellowjacket's members Russell Ferrante (keyboards) & Jimmy Haslip (bass) and drummer Toss Panos. This is a spirited affair that will bring a smile to jazz lovers of all ages.
Haskell himself has a great tone and impeccable technique, as he melds jazz with blues and rock to great effect. Listen to his stunning solos on "For Barack", and check him out trading leads with Germain's slippery bass on the engaging "Mamba Samba" for a taste of some sensational guitar playing. "An Orchid For Emily" is a poignant tribute to guitarist Emily Remler, and the classy jazz-fusion of "Second Look" features the sophisticated playing of both Ferrante & Haslip, who really bring a lot to the table here. The whole ensemble, along with the fiery Ford, work up a sweat on the rousing "For the Moment", complete with stunning solos and intricate arrangements all around, and they are all back on the bluesy, Wes Montgomery inspired "Monty", a real feast of tasty, groove laden guitar work. Also noteworthy is the raging, jazz- fusion ripper "Eye of the Hurricane", featuring some lightning runs from Haskell and furious rhythms smoldering underneath, plus red hot solos from Germain, Zemelman, and Hall.
Pivot Point is quite simply classy stuff from start to finish. Haskell is a remarkable guitarist who doesn't overplay, and his lyrical style shapes these melodic songs just perfectly. The rest of the band are no slouches either, as Zemelman paints some wonderful colors alongside the guitarist while Germain & Hall provide some solid grooves throughout. Toss in some all-star guests and you have a really fine album that signals the return of a band that we hopefully will hear more from in the not too distant future.
2) For Barack
3) Mamba Samba
4) An Orchid For Emily (For Emily Remler)
5) Second Look
6) Thirty West By Seventy ('o Something Hundred)
7) 888 Watson
8) For the Moment
10) Eye of the Hurricane