Mainstream guitar trio jazz possesses a soundtrack quality that makes it perfect for sleek and sophisticated noir movies boasting sardonic shamuses and dangerous dames. George Cotsirilos typifies this type of jazz guitar playing. If jazz guitar had an aroma, Cotsirilos' brand would smell of Yardley Soap, single-malt scotch, and unfiltered cigarettes in close quarters: dark and slightly decadent, full-bodied, and warm.
On his third OA2 release, Past Present Cotsirilos and his working trio mix up the standards and original compositions in a 10-song recital that cruises down the center of the jazz parkway. With chops to burn, Cotsirilos nevertheless avoids showing off thereby leaving his music and playing unencumbered by the technical ejaculations that often clouded performances by Joe Pass (and by extension, Art Tatum).
With his perfectly round solo and chordal tone, Cotsirilos weaves with bassist Rob Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto a tight, swinging fabric that is fully integrated and readily digestible. "The Way You Look Tonight" illustrates this perfectly. Cotsirilos introduces the songs with single notes peppered with rich chording. He then establishes the groove with a descending figure that is picked up and propelled by Fisher. Marabuto provides percussion set way back and sounding like Philly Joe Jones on a really good day.
Cotsirilos squares all of the corners and solos robustly. His performance of the Kerns/Fields piece is spot-on elegant and resourceful. Likewise is his treatment of the originals. "Good Wood" is a swinging introduction with an angular chord progression allowing for some snappy drumming from Marabuto. The title tune is a contemporary samba that holds up well under its coastal, humid confines.
Past Present continues the thread of fine performances established with his preceding On The Rebop (OA2, 2006) and Silenciosa (OA2, 2003). This is unusually refined music deserving of more exposure.