3. I'm Glad There Is You
4. Angel Eyes
5. Just Squeeze Me
7. Li'l Darlin'
8. Love Letters
9. If You Could See Me Now
10. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
11. When I Fall In Love
12. Have You Met Miss Jones
13. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Mark Capon - guitar
Rick Eckberg - bass
Dick Johnson - drums
Ray Alexander - piano (1,2 & 12)
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MARK CAPON - The Jazz Guitar Of ...
by J Hunter
Until Charlie Christian (and his amp) was smuggled onto Benny Goodmans stage one opening night, the guitar was at best a third member of jazz rhythm section. Christians lead lines brought energy to the staid music of Goodman, and influenced later players such as Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Tal Farlow.
In addition to playing with such luminaries as Charles Mingus, Red Norvo and Buddy DeFranco, Farlow was also a teacher of the craft. His handiwork can be seen in the beautiful lines drawn by a former pupil on The Jazz Guitar of Mark Capon. In solo, trio, and quartet settings, Capon shows there may be a time and a place for jazz deconstruction, but that time isnt when Capon is at work.
The Jazz Guitar of Mark Capon could have been titled Jazz History by Mark Capon, since the disc is made up entirely of standards. This choice can be seen as both safe and daring safe in that the player leans on established material instead of creating music of his own, daring in that the player always runs the risk of comparison when playing known material. Given that he chose to open Jazz Guitar with Cherokee, it is safe to say Capon is unfazed by the task of making his interpretations stand on their own merit. Besides, it always helps if you cook with good food, and having Duke, Dorsey and Dameron in your musical cupboard can only improve the meal.
As previously mentioned, Jazz Guitar is not New School. This is as Old School as it gets back to the days when jazz was something you could dance to as well as listen to. You can feel the reflection from the mirror ball on lush, romantic pieces like Im Glad There Is You and Just Squeeze Me. Even when Capon moves to the blues of Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me or the samba of Love Letters, the watchwords of his playing are intimate and elegant. Capon can see a rut, coming, too. Just when When I Fall In Love is in danger of bogging down, Capon picks up the tempo, replacing the longing, lonely tone with a happy, optimistic bounce.
The bulk of Jazz Guitar is performed in a trio setting, and performed well. Bassist Rick Eckburg and drummer Dick Johnson are a fine rhythm section, and offer their own brief solo contributions. That said, my favorite moments on Jazz Guitar happen when keyboardist Ray Alexander joins the group. His piano offers harmony and counterpoint to Capons guitar, as well as an energy that kicks the music up a notch. Alexanders call-and-answer with Capon on Broadway provides challenge without a sense of one-upmanship, and proves that another musical voice only lifts Capons work.
Like I said, there is a time and place for deconstruction. Maybe that time will be tomorrow. For today, The Jazz Guitar of Mark Capon is stuck in another time. For once, being stuck is something to be proud of.
J HUNTER is a former announcer/producer for radio stations in the Capital Region and the Bay Area, including KSJS/San Jose (where he was Assistant Music Director/Jazz programming), Q104 WQBK/Albany, and WSSV/Saratoga. He has also written music and theatre reviews for the Glens Falls Chronicle. He currently resides in Clifton Park.