Paul Colombo Group
The Paul Colombo Group is a quartet of players residing in the Philadelphia area, that expanded the original trio of guitarist Paul Colombo, bassist Andy Alonso, and drummer Chris Loser with the addition of renowned pianist/composer Ron Thomas who had played with Pat Martino on 1972’s Pat Martino/Live. As a guitarist, Martino was one of the then 15-year-old Colombo’s major influences. Both live in the Philly-reading corridor so Colombo sought out Thomas for lessons. Some things are just meant to be and the present finds Thomas playing keyboards and synths with the group in a quartet setting. While the instrumentation to some may signal fusion, although there are hints of that the group is mostly modeled on the Martino sound. The pristine sound comes courtesy of Loser who recorded, mixed, and mastered.
All four are veteran players so there aren’t any awkward or unsure steps you might find with a more youthful group’s debut. Solos from Colombo and Thomas are succinct, articulate, and conveyed in rich tone while the group interplay is tight and expressive when called for. They open with the Latin-tinged title track, a breezy take “This Heart” rolls out as a mid-temp swinger with a blissful, jaunty melody that on the fours allows each member to engage. “Junior” marries wind and Latin in a semi-fusion approach with the standout solo coming from the explosive drums of Loser.
“Lovesick” is a lovely flowing ballad with hints of pop and soul with each note rendered with a balance of precision and feeling. “Motion Potion,” written by Thomas, is the only non-Colombo composition and carries a distinctly different sound – funky, bass-and-drum heavy with some of the edgiest playing from both Colombo and Thomas, including wah-wah effects and reverb we associate with early ‘70s sounds. It’s bassist Alonso’s turn to step out in the minor blues “”Wakin’ Up” while “YBB” is named after Paul’s 14-year-old son who gave himself the rap name Yung Boi Butta. It’s rendered as an eleven bar (not the conventional 12) blues strut. “Soul Mates” is a lively jazz waltz that puts a cap on these joyous proceedings.
For its mix of stylings and ultimately refreshing, light breezy tone this is rewarding listen. While the group may well remain a regional treasure, they boast talent that’s worthy of broader recognition. This debut can only further that cause.
- Jim Hynes
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