Local Wire

John Jorgenson

Hats off to any musician who ventures out of his/her comfort zone and doesn't stick (or bury) him/herself in a particular niche. But venturing isn't without its pitfalls: Your fans might be disoriented by a new direction, while other listeners might think you a dabbler or pretender. Guitar wizard John Jorgenson is too busy playing to worry about that stuff — he's paid his dues, by gum, with Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, the Hellecasters, and from 1986-92, the Desert Rose Band (featuring ex-Byrd/Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman). The young Jorgenson grew up on swing-era jazz (his padre was conductor for clarinet king Benny Goodman) and, in recent years, returned to this first love. The John Jorgenson Quintet's latest album, Ultraspontane (J2), features their fearless leader on acoustic guitar and clarinet in an elegant 'n' zesty program of (mostly) originals in the style of French Gypsy jazz icon Django Reinhardt. A more recent frame of reference: JJ5tet evokes the acoustic fusion/Dawg music of David Grisman, but leans more toward the jazz side (small-group swing division) of the equation. Labels be damned; if you enjoy poised but rhythmic acoustic music in which stunning technique serves the music instead of ego, you gotta hear these hepcats live.
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Mark Keresman