Fred Woodard

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Fred Woodard: Reviews

Guitarist picks soulful jazz path

Jazz guitarist Fred Woodard was born in Kansas City, raised in Iowa city, educated at the esteemed Berklee College of Music and now resides in Boston.

His sound, far from being the stylish mishmash that cross-country path might suggest, is classic, soulful jazz. Whatever influence Woodard absorbed from those locales, his songs have a vintage feel and his guitar tone is smooth and straight ahead.

On "1715," Woodard's second, self-released disk, the guitarist takes the clasical sound of many a Blue Note soul-jazz record and updates it with modern touches. The mix makes for a listen that satisfies those looking for traditional fare, as well as those wanting to take a look forward.

The seven tracks here include three strong originals and four covers. Woodard tackles classics as well as less well-known tunes.

Woodard's originals hold their own with more familiar selections like the Grant Green standard "Miss Ann's Tempo." His playing on both his own tracks and on these chestnuts in the same: fluid, warm and expressive.

While Woodard obviously has the chops to issue a flurry of sound from his guitar, he has the patience to choose the spots, letting the spaces between the notes carry as much import as the notes themselves.

Woodard and his group, which includes Herman Hampton on bass, and Peter Barr on drums, work well together. They're joined here by two more horns -- Kurtis Rivers on tenor sax and Andre Hayward on trombone -- on the more funky, fleshed-out "Stretching/Rebirth of Slick."

Here Woodard again shows his patience, deferring to the horns for much of the song, but eventually rising through the music to become the song's star.

"1715" is a tight collection of mature jazz from a developing player with promise.

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