Steve Howe belongs to a group of distinctive guitar virtuosos who have emerged from the field of rock music. While he dedicates himself, together with his colleagues from Yes, to the art of the wall-of-sound style, the British musician, rooted in the tradition of jazz, blues and country stars such as Les Paul, Wes Montgomery and Chet Atkins, normally chooses a more quieter sound on his solo efforts. After the acoustic song collection ‘Natural Timbre’ and the etheric album ‘Skyline’, there is much more variety on the new work ‘Elements’. And it’s a new event in the home of Howe because the master‘s two sons, Dylan and Virgil, belong to the latest band project called Remedy.
The second CD by Philip Johnston's Big Trouble is jazz mixing great musicianship with a touch of madness. He treats Steve Lacy's "Hemline" as if it were penned by Raymond Scott (whose music was adapted for classic Looney Tunes cartoons) and "Bone" sounds like a wild improvisation on a childhood chant. Pianist Joe Ruddick's "Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken" has a nifty calypso beat with an intense cacophony of reeds and brass. Johnston is also a gifted composer; his "Pontius Pilate Polka" blends folk dances with swinging Dixieland interludes. "Mr. Crocodile" is a light samba with a touch of reggae. Highly recommended for fans of the great melting pot of jazz.