Frank Kohl | The Crossing Review
By Illiam Sebitz
Guitarist Frank Kohl has consistently put forth meaningful and eminently well-conceived guitar releases. His latest album titled The Crossing presents a dual guitar and upright bass approach. Kohl from the Seattle Washington jazz scene has collaborated on several albums with bassist Steve LaSpina, the two are joined by guitarist John Stowell. The album is introspective and offers mature and seasoned performances by all. Kohl and Stowell have a unique bond with each guitarist being their own unique stylist, but both coming from the traditional Barney Kessel style of jazz guitar approach.
The Crossing is Kohl’s fifth leader album, filled with equity of original and comely standards the listener is treated to a trio that displays masterful collaboration, each taking on their role with panache and impeccable artistry. Kohl’s originals are filled with fresh ideas and composed with an inclination of the jazz guitar tradition.
His arrangements of tastefully chosen standards ring with promise atmospheric delight. For example, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “O Grande Amour” is given a relaxed playthrough by the trio. LaSpina has a breezy bossa nova feel that both Kohl and Stowell embellish. Both have the rhythmic language of the bossa nova mastered in both their accompanying and single-note playing. It is interesting to hear how both guitarists approach the melody, Kohl plays the melody first, with Stowell performing it the last time. Each has their own unique way of bringing out the charm of the Jobim melody. Stowell solos first; his lines are carefully constructed around the harmony and maintains a flowing eight-note pattern. Kohl’s solo has a wide range of techniques and colors, from rhythmically repeated notes to chordal statements.
“Middle of Nowhere” is a Kohl original with a straight-eight feel provided by LaSpina. The melody is catchy and joyful. The two guitarists have outstanding interaction on this track. Both speak the same jazz language, and that gives them the ability to complement each other. Hearing these two guitarists perform is going to be a treat for all jazz guitar fans.
Kohl once again proves his acumen for writing smartly constructed originals adorning them with equally styled arrangements of standards. At first, I was unsure of the two guitarists’ idea, but Kohl and Stowell prove they are both masters of collaboration, each contributing to the success of a dual guitar sound. LaSpina per usual is nothing less than magical.
It is easy to hear why artists such as the Mel Lewis’s orchestra (1978–82), Stan Getz (1986-87), Jim Hall (from 1988), Andy LaVerne (from 1989), and Benny Carter (latter half of the 1990s) called upon his bass predilection. The Crossing is worth the journey. Partake and enjoy.
Release Date: January 10, 2020
Label: Frank Kohl