WBGO Radar

Joshua Breakstone: "2nd Avenue"

joshua breakstone

For guitarist Joshua Breakstone the musical intent is always the expansion from musician to artist.

Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, he was first exposed to Broadway and Philharmonic recordings.

He later took in live performances of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa at The Filmore East, where his sister ran the light show.

This master guitarist was influenced along the way by the clean lines of trumpeters Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan.

Breakstone's own lines have been heard with Kenny Barron, Jimmy Knepper, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Jack McDuff.

Of late, Joshua has found invention inside his cello quartet, first with his 2014 album "With the Wind and the Rain" (Capri), reconvening for "2nd Avenue: The Return of the Cello-Quartet."

Breakstone explains the title by saying " Having lived at various addresses over the years, each off Manhattan's 2nd Avenue, I've had countless musical meetings which remain a vital presence in my musical attitudes."

There are quartet and trio performances here. With bassist Lisle Atkinson, drummer Andy Watson and Mike Richmond on cello, Breakstone opens with the Lee Konitz tune, "Thingin'", a walking blues where all shine.

Joshua explains his arrangement of Cannonball Adderley's "Home" as "jazz meets chamber music", with Atkinson bowing the melody as guitar and cello harmonize lines throughout.

Though Richmond is primarily know for his bass work with Stan Getz and Lee Konitz, among many others, his inventive cello work on "I'm An Old Cowhand" gets your attention right away, nodding to Sonny Rollins along the way.

Dexter Gordon's "Evergreenish" has Breakstone playing a short second solo, a device he credits to those many hours of digging Lee Morgan.

All take a solo turn on "Hit It," written by bassist Atkinson.

There are also some engaging trio tracks on this new one. With Joshua's guitar, Atkinson's bass and Watson's delicate brushwork, "I Wish I Knew" gets a slow Latin treatment of this beautiful ballad showing the gorgeous imagination between these three.

Andy Watson's drum work once drove the large ensembles of Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band and the Westchester Jazz Orchestra. That fire is apparent here on a fierce paced treatment of "The Lamp Is Low," kindling for Breakstone's lines that make this a 4 alarmer.

Joshua dug into pianist Sonny Clark's book for "My Conception." It's a pretty, required listen for anyone searching for late-night companionship.

"2nd Ave: Blues For Imahori," is a Breakstone original written for an old friend from Japan. It's a minor blues in bebop, which Joshua describes as "all guitar all the way."

With every listen,"2nd Avenue: The Return of the Cello-Quartet" invites another. It comes out May 19th from Capri Records.

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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