Each Step is the debut recording by guitarist Nathan Borton. As his website accurately states, Borton draws heavily from the mid-western tradition of bebop and blues. His influences include Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell.
The album offers an enjoyable tour through the straight-ahead tradition. There are three standards early on: Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things," Harry Warren's "The More I See You" and John Lewis' "Milestones." These show the virtuosity of Borton's solo lines. His lyricism shines in the ballade part of "The More I See You." In the melody of "Milestones," Diego Rivera creates a beautiful blend with the guitar on the tenor saxophone. The masterful rhythm section of Rodney Whitaker on bass and Keith Hall on drums swings hard.
In addition to the standards, Each Step includes four of Borton's original compositions and one piece by his mentor and album producer, Randy Napoleon. Borton's "What Now?" is refreshing after the three standards immediately preceding it. This piece is also distinctive for its faster sections with intriguing harmonies and brilliant piano lines by Xavier Davis. Jazz guitar traditions continue in Napoleon's "These Are the Things We Throw Away." Borton's "Change," which follows, brings new colors with bass trombonist Chris Glassman playing a lyrical solo. Next Borton pays another homage to tradition with Grant Green's "Grantstand." The album's closer, Borton's "Grant's Groove," has a more modern vibe and creates a powerful conclusion. With Each Step, Borton stays true to jazz guitar traditions while building his own sound step by step.