On Isaac Darche

This review appears in the August 2012 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.

Isaac Darche
Boom-Bap!tism (BJU)

By David R. Adler

Guitarist Isaac Darche’s sophomore effort, the follow-up to his 2010 debut One More Shot, is a concise and compelling organ trio set with Sean Wayland on Hammond B-3 and Mark Ferber on drums. It’s steeped in modern harmony with an emphasis on original music — four pieces by Darche (pronounced “darsh”), three by Wayland. The relevant precedent here might be John Abercrombie’s work with Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum, although the ballad reading of Rodgers & Hart’s “You Are Too Beautiful” recalls Wes Montgomery with Melvin Rhyne. Darche’s uptempo blues “Error and Trial” also brings the band’s fierce straightahead chops clearly into view. But even in these moments, the music is effortlessly forward-thinking, free of idiomatic clichés.

It’s no easy accomplishment in a field packed with guitarists, but Darche has found a unique sound and technical approach on the instrument. His tone is bright, his articulation blindingly fast and flawless, his rhythm consistently in the pocket but full of breath, never stiff. His lyrical ideas and tight rapport with Wayland are a pleasure from the first notes of “Beautiful,” the Wayland-penned opener. Other pieces, such as “East Gardens” and “Green Team,” have a similarly relaxed straight-eighth feel, while “Broke-Coke-Ho” and “The People Above Us” are waltz-based and “Mona Vale” is more metrically ambiguous.

Darche, also to his credit, is willing to sit back and let Wayland shine — indeed, the organist often solos first on these cuts. An Australian native with extraordinary skill on piano and other keyboards, Wayland deserves greater recognition for his fluid yet angular sensibility, and he’s very much an equal here (a co-producer of the album, in fact). It’ll be worth seeing how his partnership with Darche develops.

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