Joe Burch, Mandolin; Donnie Loeffler, Guitar; John Manning, Drums, John Thornberry, Bass
I tell you right away: this CD will definitely be pulled from my library again. There is a pleasant lightness to it - even in its approach of heavier tunes like Monk's "Well You Needn't" but in no way is this album lightweight. The Jazzcrafters focus on strings (guitar, mandolin and bass) which gives the tunes warmth and - as the accompanying press release rightfully outlines - "a crystal clear" sound.
My favorites, aside from the previously mentioned Monk tune, include "My Romance" which features Joe Burch on mandolin. I never had the pleasure to hear the mandolin incorporated into a jazz setting and must admit that I was surprised about the unexpected beauty of this ancient instrument in the context of jazz. The mandolin is a part of native Brazilian music and as such the Jazzcrafters decided to pay homage to traditional Latin music by incorporating the mandolin into their own arrangements, ranging from tunes pulled out of the Great American Songbook to probably lesser-known Latin songs. Mandolinist Joe Burch swings hard and carries the lead also on John Piscano's "Amanhecer." Another favorite of mine on this CD is "Beija-Flor" by Nelson Cavaquinho, Noel Silva and Augusto Tomaz, Jr. The latter tune showcases the talent of guitarist Donnie Loeffler. The Jazz Crafters are from Louisville, Kentucky, and hopefully this debut CD will get them the wider attention they deserve.
by Kate Kaiser