An idea of what guitarist Dan Heck's passion is can be determined from the title of his newest CD. Compositionality is a great name for an album in which all the highly varied tunes are written by one man. The only problem with understanding Heck's enthusiasm is that it might give one the impression that his instrumental prowess is below average. Nothing could be furthur from the truth. His soloing is technically fine and very melodic.
Like some composers, Heck mentions inspirations whenever possible. "Stand Pat," which is inspired by Pat Metheny (imagine a modern guitarist inspired by Pat Metheny. Huh.), finds Heck soloing over simple albeit gorgeous bass and drums just as Metheny is wont to do of late.
Drummer Brian Blade gets an out-and-out celebration in a barely controlled joy of a cut titled "Blade's Groove." Featured trumpeter Thomas Marriott cuts loose, as does pianist Stuart Shelton, with solos that burst with joyful energy. Heck calms it a little, then brings the muscle up to drummer Jose Martinez' commentary over the groove. Exciting stuff.
"Tommy's Teeth," dedicated to Dexter Gordon, gets a laugh out of simply capturing the style of a true master. No one copies his soloing style (there is no saxophonist here to copy Long Tall's style), but the piece just sounds so...right! "Dan's Hit Tune" and "Ciao Jobs, I'm not Rolan" (easy to miss the significance of that title) are said to be inspired by A. C. Jobim, and who are we to quibble? They're both beautiful, with Marriott sounding of flugelhorn. Shelton goes to the Fender Rhodes on the latter, which always mellows the sound. Nice.
"Blue Stone" could have been inspired by Horace Silver, considering the hard-bop and gospellish chording on this blues' middle four. Of course, one could take the title as an anagram for "Blue Notes" and understand from whence it cometh.
The closing cut, "Naples," is a deceptively simple jazz waltz that has that wonderful and tantalizing effect of of leaving the listener wanting more, which this one does. Wholeheartedly.
More, Dan Heck, more. Encore.