Meeting Standards (Viewpoint)
Those who frequent Austin's handful of jazz venues know about guitarist Clay Moore. Although his name only occasionally appears on the marquee, he's often found enhancing the sonic landscape of numerous local ensembles as one of the most in-demand sidemen in town. This is Moore's debut release as a leader and, as the title suggests, he not only meets, but often exceeds expectations on this impressive set of primarily standard fare. Moore exhibits a round tone and buoyant, linear style that reflects major influences such as Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Howard Roberts, while also incorporating more modern elements gleaned from John Scofield and his ilk. Most of the album features Moore in a cozy trio setting with electric bassist Chris Maresh as his alternating soloist. In addition to a few well-worn show tunes and be-bop anthems, Moore has dusted off at least a pair of outstanding modern standards. Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" is given a slightly upbeat, Latin tinge by drummer A.D. Mannion, while John Coltrane's "Soul Eyes" features Moore's most beautifully poignant playing on the date. We have the most fun, however, on the spright and impishly playful "Rocky & Bullwinkle," the theme from the old TV show. The sole original, "Morning Star," is a reflective ballad that hints at Moore's compositional capabilities. We haven't heard the last of this accomplished Austin guitarist, as his next album for Viewpoint is already in the can.