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In This Present Moment by Matthew Von Doran

After 20 years of gradually building his rep as a reliable and versatile sideman on the Orange County, Calif., circuit, guitarist Matthew Von Doran has finally stepped out as a leader in his own right with In This Present Moment. Produced by Jimmy Haslip, bassist with the internationally renowned Yellowjackets - and featuring two other members of that group, Marcus Baylor and Bob Mintzer - this debut outing from Von Doran finds the guitarist surrounded by a cast of jazz heavyweights. The album is an impressive showcase that highlights Von Doran’s warm, inviting tone and accomplished six-string work in a variety of settings.

"The record has a nice, eclectic mix, but it’s not too all over the map," says Von Doran in addressing his own nature as a guitarist. "A lot of sideman guitarists, which is basically what I’ve been, tend to do a look-what-I-can-do kind of record for their debut," he says in a press release. "It’s like, ‘Here I am being Wes Montgomery, here I am being Jeff Beck, here I am being Chet Atkins, and here I am being Bill Frisell.’ And that might work for some players, but I wanted it to have some kind of focus."

The focus is crystal clear as Von Doran and friends embark on a mellow, yet hip journey into guitar jazz.

From the hauntingly melodic opener, Balance, to the earthy N’Awlins flavored funk of Measure One to the impassioned swinging Critical Mass, sparked by the ace rhythm tandem of James Genus on bass and Baylor on drums, and featuring a thrilling tenor solo from Mintzer, Von Doran covers a lot of stylistic bases on In This Present Moment.

Organist Larry Goldings adds a thick, Hammond B-3 cushion underneath the aptly named Swang, which is fueled by the briskly swinging, interactive pulse of Terri Lyne Carrington on the kit, and culminates some heated trading between the organ and the guitar. The potent organ trio also appears on the breezy, Latin-flavored Z and the more ethereal Ex Nihilo.

Producer Haslip appears alongside his Yellowjackets bandmate Baylor on the challenging, post-boppish Vanity Strikes, which also features a burning solo from vibist Roger Burn. Former Chick Corea Elektric Band drummer Gary Novak provides the slamming backbeat on the powerful groover Cable.

And for a radical change of pace, Von Doran pulls out his 11-string nylon fretless Godin guitar on the provocative Trick, which is underscored by some adventurous interplay between bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz and drummer Peter Erskine.

Von Doran closes the collection with the melancholic acoustic guitar ballad Somewhere Before, which features some sensitive brushwork from Erskine and is also highlighted by a beautifully expressive solo upright bass intro by Oles.

From opener to closer, there’s not a weak link on In This Present Moment. It’s a strong debut for this guitar talent.

May there be many more to come.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Matthew Von Doran
  • CD Title: In This Present Moment
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Tracks: Balance, Critical Mass, Swang, Measure Once, Z, Trick, Vanity Strikes, Cable, Ex Nihilo, Somewhere Before
  • Musicians: Bob Mintzer, Bob Sheppard, Roger Burn, Larry Goldings, Charlie Ewing, James Genus, Jimmy Haslip, Darek Oles, Marcus Baylor, Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Erskine, Gary Novak.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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