Fans of swing guitar (including for my blues loving friends some of Duke Robillard’s recent swing guitar efforts) will be delighted with Heavy Artillery, by the Howard Alden/Andy Brown Quartet (Delmark). I am more familiar with Alden, a member of George Wein’s Newport All Stars, than the Chicago-based Brown, but both are terrific swing-rooted guitarists who display nimble, fleet fretwork matched to a keen musical intelligence. Additionally, they exhibit considerable empathy in supporting each other whether chording behind the other’s solos, trading fours or jointly stating the theme of a song,
They take us from the opening “Louisiana” to the boppish Chuckles (from Clark Terry’s pen), down to Brazil on Vocé E Eu, and Brigas Nunca Mais, and to Paris for Django Reinhardt’s number that provides the recording with its title. Alden returns to a song associated with Louis Armstrong, Don Redman’s No One Else But You, that he used to perform with Rudy Braff. In addition to the two marvelous Bossa Nova performances, Thad Jones’ “Three and One,” showcase their ability to interpret amore modern jazz compositions with the same swinging approach (bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Bob Rummage take brief solos here).
With supple backing from Policastro and Rummage, Alden and Brown enchant throughout Heavy Artillery with fleet and lyrical playing. This is a marvelous recording.