Eli Arts 2015
Milwaukee jazz veteran gets in the mood for a melody and gives a set of standards a youthful shine.
Decades have flown under the bridge since he ran with the members of Rat Pack in Vegas, playing also with Elvis and Liza, but time passage didn’t diminish Dick Eliot’s creative fire. It’s time-tested classics, though, that the guitarist focuses on on this album, bringing a warm glow, in the company of kindred spirits, to the misty-eyed, gypsy-styled “S’wonderful” and other evergreens. In such context, the record’s title has a new connotation, its title track is much more than a filigree stroll down memory lane – it’s an optimistic glance forward, and Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” offers a samba-tinctured hot persuasion to join the band leader.
There’s existential sadness to some of the tunes, underscored by a phone message from the late Johnny Smith, and playfulness to others, including “The Very Thought Of You” where double-tracked lines, shot through with Dick’s brother Don’s bass, conjure the sweetest images. Deliberately retro, “Strike Up The Band” is full of sparse, breathing grace, while “Slow Boat To China” has both Latin tinge and rock twang to it, and “Who Can I Turn To” a reverie air. It’s shattered with the “That’s All” finale, the only vocal performance on display – elegantly endearing, just like the memories of April at Christmas time. Sheer pleasure.