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Veteran drummer, Bob Guthrie, has assembled a quartet from some of Chicago's finest jazz musicians. A regular staple aboard the casino boat Calypso (Navy Pier), they can be heard performing tunes in a style that fits a special Chicago dance known as "Steppin'. Bob's debut CD, "Steppin' Slick" contains eleven tracks of pure groove. In the past he has performed and recorded with the likes of Sonny Stitt, Von Freeman, and Brother Jack McDuff, so it's no surprise that the groove moves on. Duke Payne (saxes), Tom Vaitsas (keyboard) and Bill Boris (guitar) round out the quartet, 

CD cover, Steppin' Slick

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BOB GUTHRIE QUARTET, "Steppin' Slick"
Personnel: Bob Guthrie (drums), Bill Boris (guitar), Tom Vaitsas (keyboard), Duke Payne (sax)

Track 1: Cozumel
Track 2: Canteloupe Island
Track 3: With You I'm Born Again
Track 4: Enchilda Joe
Track 5: After Hours
Track 6: Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise
Track 7: Way Back Home
Track 8: Hold Back

$14.99 EA

HAND ASSEMBLED FOR:
"The aim is simple: make the groove strong, the tunes funky … and get the people dancing. To that end we have a gruff sax (Duke Payne) a lyrical guitar (Bill Boris, in the vein of Wes) and the solid drumbeat of Bob Guthrie, a veteran of the Chicago scene. He sprays cymbals onto “Cozumel”, with a hard snare on the “three”. Boris twangs the theme slowly, like a lazy spring; when Payne arrives, Bill jumps to a fast rhythm part. Duke can scream, but prefers a low-pressure scream – a gentler version of Johnny Griffin. “Canteloupe Island” starts quietly, as Bill and Duke share a two-note riff. The Hancock role is filled by Tom Vaitsas, on electric piano; it’s simple and it’s catchy. Payne struts well on his solo; Boris wanders in the upper register. It ends like it started, with a two-note vamp – this one is stretched, with variations, for a minute until the fade. It’s a familiar dish, but that doesn’t make it less tasty.

“Born Again” is a nice game of tag; Bill calls and Duke responds. With the beat sizzling, Vaitsas trips the electric keys, smooth and delicate. Payne is gorgeous, working the chords like he owns them; Bill’s solo is crystalline bliss. “Enchilada Joe” likes his calypso hot: Guthrie stirs a fast samba, and Duke wails up in alto range. (This was written by Payne; it’s my favorite tune on the album.) Vaitsas shines on “After Hours”, where his two-note hum lets the band glide. (Boris especially – his solo glistens.) After the sax rolls through “Goin’ Home” (so strong, so confident) Bill wiggles on “Hold Back”, a tune that requires you to dance. If you need an excuse to get moving, this album will do it."

John Barrett
JazzUSA.Com/May2001

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