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Fred Woodard: Reviews

Fred Woodward | Urban Garden (Ujam 2009)

by Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix, April 14, 2009

Veteran Boston jazz guitarist Fred Woodard comes from the Wes Montgomery and Grant Green schools of elegant post-bop funk — thumb-picked, tensile lines spun from crafty tunes — with a contemporary spin of hip-hop and avant-garde. He conjures multiple voices simultaneously — either with his call-and-response between single-note phrases and chords or in his quick jumps among registers — in conversation with himself.

The title track develops its lyrical medium-tempo theme over hip-hop-inflected rhythms from drummer Yoron Israel and bassist Hill Greene. "Theme for Father" mixes a swaggering descending figure with a straight-swing B section and a crooked-step climb back up to the theme. The band take it farther out with the droning rock groove of "Mean Streets, No Bridge" and with George Adams's "Autumn Song" — the latter introduced by a free bowed bass before Woodard's elegiac ruminations are mixed with Israel's menacing rolls.

"Motherless Child" is the funkier side of the spiritual, from waltz to straight swing, with a guitar solo of probing urgency. Every listen to Urban Garden reveals new depths.

Jon Garelick
Boston Phoenix

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