When Graham Dechter opens his album with Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” he invites comparisons to one of the greatest jazz guitar slingers in history. It’s a bold move but it pays off. Right from the start it’s clear that Dechter can hold his own with the top-tier of the competition.
If you haven’t heard of him, Dechter is a young, west-coast guitarist who has played with artists like Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Three members of the latter group - John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums) and Tamir Hendelman (piano) - round out Dechter’s quartet, adding a great deal, and sharing in some of the arranging duties.
All four band members go into overdrive -with wonderful solos and forceful ensemble work - on the title tune by another fine west coast musician, Josh Nelson (who also helped arrange the track). On “Takin’ It There” and just about every other cut, Dechter plays with jaw-dropping dexterity and imagination. The speed with which he plays on Lee Morgan’s “Hocus Pocus” is simply astounding.
Dechter contributes two compositions to the album, the best of which is “Amanda.” But the highlights here are his covers of other writers’ songs. And he picks them well. The album ends with a rendition of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” that is simply gorgeous.