Music » Record Reviews

Joe Restivo: Making the Classic Quartet Sound Contemporary


The debut CD by guitarist Joe Restivo, Where's Joe? (Blue Barrel), brings with it a lot of tradition. The mellow, medium tempo swing of Thelonius Monk's “Bolivar Blues” immediately sets the scene for the fresh, bluesy, country-tinged guitar tone of Memphis' own genre-hopping Joe. The title track — an original by Joe with the familiarity of a jump blues you've heard all your life — leaps into punchy, swinging rhythmic changes, with a big band touch that makes your feet tap and your legs bounce.

With an authentic old-school feel, the rhythm section and the big tenor saxophone sound of Art Edmaiston lend the trio a relaxed laid-back feel, even when things get lively. Another original, “Starlight Motel,” slows things down with its melting guitar/saxophone harmonies, while a cover of Bill Jennings' “633 Knock!” showcase's solidly bluesy, Southern-spiked elixir of Joe's soulful soloing.

The sexy Latin treatment of “I Hear A Rhapsody” reveals the versatility of the quartet. Tom Lonardo's soft rhythmic gyrations on the drums bring a sweet and natural sounding ambience to this track. “Tiny's Tempo” brings a harder drive to the album, with Tim Goodwin anchoring the band on bass. Joe's intricate fingering work during the intro to “A Few Questions” leads us into a Latin-swing groove, and down a rabbit hole of harmonic twists and turns that never leaves us behind or loses its form.

“House Of The Rising Sun,” a staple of folk/blues artists, comes alive as Joe's arrangement sends us waltzing into a glorified swing. The tone of Art Edmaiston's solo on this track brings a true blue jazz depth to the song. Finally, “People Make The World Go 'Round,” a soul/pop hit of the 70s, carries this musical journey to a gritty, bluesy, yet contemporary end. With his fast fingering and “in-your-face” approach, Joe Restivo reminds us of the world we live in, covering a wide spectrum of genres, all riding on the wings of his strings.
Joe Restivo and band play a CD release show Thursday, August 1 at the Crosstown Arts Green Room at 8:00. $10.

He also leads the Joe Restivo 4 at Lafayette's Music Room on Sunday, July 28, and every Sunday morning, 10:30 - 2:00.

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