Guitarist Joel Shapira and his quartet have been previewing Open Lines, a spirited set that brings together an outstanding bop and beyond ensemble with saxophonist Pete Whitman, bassist Tom Lewis and drummer Dave Schmalenberger. They aired some of these tunes at Hell’s Kitchen last week and an official CD release party is in the works. But meanwhile, the new CD is available from Joel, one of the busier artists in the metro –with this quartet, Pooch’s Playhouse, his duo with Charmin Michelle (Charmin & Shapira) and an occasional gig with Triplicate, as well as frequent supporting roles for area vocalists.
In the realm of full disclosure, I have to note that I did the front and inside jacket photos for Open Lines, well before I heard the music. I hope the artwork adequately conveys the often colorful, sometimes sublime arrangements of an eclectic set of great jazz covers, and the movement of the music, from subtle to outright bouncy. I think it is fair to say that after “shooting” Joel throughout Wild Sound Studios, we had at least one photo that represented each track – boppishly straight ahead (“Have You Met Miss Jones”, “It Could Happen to You”), luxuriously subdued (“Nardis,” “How Insensitive” and “Time Remembered”), adventurously dark (“Invitation”), just a bit funky (“Turnaround”), and teetering on the edge (Frank Foster’s “Simone” and even every high school jazz band’s cover, “Confirmation”). Most telling is the music itself, that open feel to the quartet’s interplay, those “open lines” of communication that inform the disk’s title. (Charmin & Shapira are wrapping up a new CD of their own, stay tuned.)