A fitting tribute to a great guitarist
It was an ‘about time’ tribute. Chris Vitarello isn't just a star blues-man from New York, but a bastion of modern jazz, on the back of a Fender, to which Bruce Katz's Hammond yields the leading role in Out from the Center, his new record release on the eve of autumn 2016. Two instruments, elbow to elbow, that seem made for each other without losing sight of the keyboard roots of the Allman Brothers piano man.
A member of the Blues Hall of Fame since 2013, and nominated along with Chris O'Leary (and his harp) for a good handful of awards, Vitarello is at 40 some, a promise of good blues. Lately, he's been acclaimed in jazz, both for his top-end guitar work, and his facet for composition. On this record, he authors 4 of the 11 numbers and, of course,this contribution is more than mere accompaniment. On Out from the Center, the maestro Katz is the director. However, it is he who is in charge, with the help of his Fender, Hofner, a Clark (like the one displayed in his Facebook) or a Gibson, whichever.
Even in the studio, this New Yorker manages to transmit the feeling of a jam session. Improvisation makes him feel ‘all the freedom in the world’, especially when talking about blues. On Schnapps Man, the second track, he takes us into his world, behind a boogie intro and brilliant guitar work.
The Struggle Inside Us is simply pure blues, in which the Katz ́s organ takes the wheel with the unmistakeable sound of the Hammond. Lying in wait, Vitarello scratches his guitar in a building itch to a climax that only the best 6-chord greats can do. It ́s also a perfect example of his talent as a composer.
Without getting through half the album, the music overfloweth our cup. It is a show of class and schooling where the title song offers us the best of many worlds. From Woodstock to...themselves.
It ́s not simply instruments that bring back the ́classics ́. Katz and Vitarello are as ́classic ́as their teachers, and their own music is best proof of that. The melody of Out from the Center will give you goosebumps in its beauty and amazing perfection. Time simply lingers for 8 and a half minutes; a dreamy jam from which this New Yorker does not seem to want to awake.
And, moving on, a bit of a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, from Vitarello to one of his heroes. There ́s a lot more, but it's best to discover and enjoy it. Another guitar perhaps on the road to its own legend.