Pittsburgh Jazz Guitarist Ken Karsh is one of those great players that you can’t help but wonder why he’s not a household name. His technique is most impressive, his lines are earnest and his solo guitar playing is way above par. It is indeed a mystery. Thankfully though, this relative anonymity, unless of course, you live in Pittsburgh, doesn’t interfere with Karsh doing what he does best, which is playing the heck out of his guitar.
Conversations, his second CD as a leader, features Karsh in both a group setting and a more intimate solo guitar setting, providing a nice variety of moods.
The ensemble performances highlight great playing from all concerned, providing Karsh with a vast foundation to lay down some serious soloing. His fleet-fingered bop blowing on the first cut “Polkaboppin’” is, according to Karsh’s liner notes, his first foray into writing for the Bop idiom where, like the masters before him, he’s taken the well-known standard, “Polka Dots And Moonbeams”, and crafted his own distinctive head on top of the well-known changes. His solo is deep in the Bop pocket as well as he constructs long and flowing lines at a fast clip, while firmly planting his harmonic feet melodically on the ground. Jeff Mangone and Max Leake, bass and keyboards respectively, also get to flaunt their chops quite nicely as well.
Go by link if you are looking for the best jazz amp for your guitar
With the exception of the Metheny tribute “Down Pat”, the rest of the group tunes offer a less frantic feel than the first tune, but are a none-the-less effective and delightful display of Karsh’s honed compositional talents. “Spring Forward, Fall Back”, “In The Corner” and “Conversations” are true ensemble pieces that favor songwriting more than just roughly sketched-out vehicles purely for blowing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that mind you! It is clear that Ken Karsh enjoys “conversing” with not only the band members but also the audience. Be sure to listen for some fun, but quick, familiar quotes from well-known standards that “happen” to pop up every now and then in Karsh’s solos. (“There Will Never Be Another You” for example) It may be Karsh’s way of making sure that we are all listening.
Let us know what you think in the comment area below.
Liked this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!”