John Stowell is a veteran guitarist who, despite their different sounds and repertoire, can be thought of as a latter-day Jim Hall. Like him, Stowell is consistently relaxed both in his improvising style and in his sound. His choice of notes is advanced yet, due to his tone, his solos often sound soothing. He never plays the obvious and close listening to his playing always reveals plenty of subtle surprises.
Scenes: Destinations is a trio set with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop. Stowell and Johnson often share the spotlight, the bassist getting almost as much solo space as the leader. On five Stowell originals, two from Johnson, a pair of standards ("Solar" and "You and the Night and the Music") and Tommy O'Donnell's "Psalm", the trio engages in postbop explorations full of close interplay. Stowell's playing is lyrical yet adventurous, quiet yet unpredictable. Many of his originals set moods rather than feature memorable melodies. One song leads easily to the next throughout the set. Among the highlights are Johnson's virtuosic playing on "The Mandy Walk"; playful "Long Prairie", which has a particularly light-hearted melody; the version of "Solar" that is group improvisation at its best (the theme does not emerge until near its conclusion); fairly free ensemble playing on "T.I.O."; and a swinging "You and the Night and the Music". This album serves as an excellent introduction to Stowell's playing.