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Volpe’s ‘Before & After’ hits all the right notes

Njabulo Ngubane | Jun 26, 2020

BEFORE & AFTER

Lou Volpe (Jazz Guitar Records 918)

New York-based jazz guitarist Lou Volpe breezes through a nice, thoughtfully arranged 13-song collection of 11 originals and two covers, including a splendid, tight version of the George Gershwin classic, “Summertime.” It’s a smooth, all-instrumental disc with a fine backup band, and is almost bossa nova at times.

Before & After has its silky grooves and mixes in a little soul, blues, fusion, and Latin influences. A sideman for many years for some big names in jazz and pop, such as Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Herbie Mann, Peggy Lee, and the Manhattan Transfer, Volpe has the fluidity of soft jazz virtuosos such as Pat Metheney, Larry (Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, the Crusaders) Carlton, and more of the subdued, bluesy version of George Benson from years ago.

This is a disc that puts Volpe front and center, but is easy on the ears and neatly showcases a lot of his deft, graceful and underspoken riffing. It’s mellow, yet complex and sophisticated, providing more insight into his arrangement skills than his last album, which was a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Volpe has toured extensively with Bette Midler and Judy Collins, and performed with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Roberta Flack, Bo Diddley, Liza Mennelli, Chaka Khan, David “Fathead” Newman, Joey DeFrancesco, Phoebe Snow, and many other big names in the music industry.

Written by Njabulo Ngubane

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