We gave it a B
Howard Alden is a bright and anomalous young guitarist who plays as though Jimi Hendrix and Pat Metheny had never been born. His approach — lyric, precise, sure — is rooted in the crossroads between swing and bop, but his taste in songs is as modern as the current jazz repertory movement. It runs from James P. Johnson to Thelonious Monk, with telling side trips to the more arcane wonders of Duke Ellington, including the haunting ”Le Sucrier Velour,” from Ellington’s ”The Queen’s Suite.” The disarming, reserved quality of Alden’s solos is nicely offset by the bustle of pianist Monty Alexander (especially on a surprisingly incisive ”Sleepy Time Gal”). Still, except for ”I’m Through With Love,” which is a bit hackneyed, it’s the savvy material that raises this session above the norm.