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Fred Woodard: Reviews

Cadence, February 2001

Woodard presents a series of his compositions played by his guitar trio, and adds a few standards as a contrast. He is an innovative guitarist who executes in a clear, lyrical way while still managing to bring significant improvisatory texture ot the set. The music relies on the close interaction among Woodard, bassist Hampton, and drummer Fiore. The guitar and bass strings intertwine in melodic contrast while the drums stimulate with light breezy breath. When playing the standards, Woodard remains adventurous in probing the variations off the themes, although structure constrains him to some extent. He approaches these pieces with finesse and respect, which results in lovely renditions of the well known tunes. The band is most lively when doing his original material, which allows all to maneuver in a more open environment.

The format deviates on one lengthy offering when trumpeter Brooks and reed players Rivers and Washington join the trio on "Iceman." The tune opens with rich bass playing and the ensemble statement of the theme and moves smartly into a stimulating yet understated round of improvisations by the guests and trio members. Rivers shines as the initial explorer, followed by strong blowing by Brooks and then Washington. An entire album by this sextet would be enticing. Woodard brings a quiet spark to the bandstand with his seemingly effortless manipulation of the guitar strings. his sound reeks with freshness, which results in an enjoyable music excursion.

Frank Rubolino

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