Rick Peckham (guitar); Jim Black (drums); Tony Scherr (bass)
Given his background (studied jazz at prestigious North Texas State University from 1981 to 1985, hired shortly after graduating to teach ear training at the Berklee College of Music, where he has been the assistant chair of the guitar department since 1992), you'd think that Rick Peckham's debut as a leader would be a quintessentially swinging, straight ahead date paying homage to the likes of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell. While Peckham has surely absorbed his share of Wes and the rest of those jazz guitar immortals, he reveals on Left End an equal allegiance to rock guitar greats of the '70s like Jeff Beck, Neil Young, Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Paul Kossoff of Free, Joe Walsh from James Gang...potent, creative and highly individual players all.
Somehow Peckham has managed to deftly combine elements from both camps on Left End, seamlessly marrying rock tones and twisted intent with sophisticated jazz harmonies and freewheeling improvisational daring, in the vein of noted guitarists and innovators who have come before him like John Scofield, John Abercrombie and Bill Frisell. The rock references here -- Mssrs. Beck, Young, Taylor, Gibbons, Blackmore, Kossoff and Walsh -- essentially date Peckham (he's 46). But the spirit of search and discovery that permeates this renegade guitar trio project marks him as eternally youthful. Backed by the remarkably sympathetic rhythm tandem of drummer Jim Black (a kindred spirit and ubiquitous figure on New York's downtown improvisors scene) and bassist Tony Scherr (a fixture in Steven Bernstein's Sex Mob, Michael Blake's Free Association and Bill Frisell's trio as well as a fellow North Texas State alumnus), Peckham distinguishes himself as a gutsy, accomplished player whose mind is wide open to sonic possibilities.
"When I first started playing jazz...I don't know how I got the idea...but it really seemed like part of playing jazz was that you had to hate rock," says the native of Norwalk, Ohio. "And so I sort of bought into that for a while. I bought a guitar and put strings on it that were too heavy to bend and just tried to get into Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, which I did. And I still love those guys, especially Grant Green. But when it finally came time for me to make a record I didn't want to jump into something that would be just another jazz record, I wanted to get into the difficult work of integrating Paul Kossoff and all the great classic rock guys that I always loved."
A charter member of Um, the notorious Boston-based improvising unit that has played every Tuesday for the past 10 years at the AS220 club in Providence, Rhode Island and whose ranks include trombone virtuoso, sonic experimenter and fellow Berklee educator Hal Crook, Boston free drumming legend and member of The Fringe Bob Gullotti, bassist Dave Zinno and occasional guest keyboardist John Medeski, Peckham has also toured and recorded as a member of Irish bassist-composer Ronan Guilfoye's cross-cultural Lingua Franca band. But Rick is by far in his most expressive and personal mode with this particular interactive guitar trio we hear on Left End.
"That's that idea," he notes. "When I'm making a record I'm not trying to document what somebody else has done, I wanna go somewhere different."
By : Bill Milkowski
1. Left End (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
2. 353-1001 (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
3. Mr. Medium (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
4. Shakey (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
5. Free 2 (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
6. Gibbons (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
7. Soporific (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
8. You Know What That Mean (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
9. Hammer Damage
11. Real Time
12. Free 1