Acclaimed UK jazz guitarist Neil C Young makes a bold statement in establishing his unique talent with the release of El Camino, he is quickly making a name in the U.S. Young’s big six-string sound weaves through a collection of delightful grooves and eclectic textures with the aid of bassist Alan Whitham and drummer Richard Young. Young’s gift for melodies in certainly the center of this eight song album; forward-looking but still grounded in tradition, El Camino is a great addition to the ever growing modern jazz sound.
The bright sounds of “Nutter Strut” start things with a clear message that the guitar will be behind the wheel of this El Camino. Young’s chords give way to an angular single line melody that is again juxtaposed with chords with melody. Young’s solo is well conceived and builds in a logical manner with use of call and response chords and single lines. The melody is restated with a nice interlude with intelligent use of dynamics giving the selection an aura of development and a sense of travel. Drummer, Richard Young does a great job of catching all the accents with Neil and giving the piece a solid forward motion. The selection ends with an enjoyable vamp.
The swing driven “The Wagon (it left without me),” finds Young making good use of his Scofield with a hint of roots rock blinkers to make left and right turns through the compositions byways. Those influences remain in the percolating rhythms of the melody and his improvised lines. Neil not only acknowledges these various influences, but also displays an in-depth knowledge of storytelling improvisations and well-crafted compositions, which Young gives credit to his studies with Gary Boyle and Fred T Baker at the renowned Birmingham Conservatoire.
“Bear Claw” follows; with its funk edged groove that finds its allure by the way Neil uses really simple melodic ideas to logically develop his musical statements. Neil has a wide palette of sounds, but what really make El Camino hum along is the textural backdrop of Whitham’s solid bass and Young’s in the pocket drumming. Throughout the selection each melodic statement is treaded with intense listening by this working trio; there is certainly a unique vibe coming from that feeling of cohesion.