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Straight-Ahead Swooning: Michael Blum's Guitar Jazz

The up-and-coming Michael Blum makes an impressive and vital debut with Initiation, and a persuasive case for straight-ahead guitar jazz. While this precocious 20-year-old New Hampshire native has forged an accessible modern sound with a rooted connection to jazz masters like Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, and early George Benson, Blum embraces an intimacy with his material and dispatches a thoughtful set list with the surprising sureness of a more experienced musician.

Michael Blum plays "Castle Rock"


With chops and good taste, the guitarist delivers a buttery version of “Stella By Starlight” and a bluesy, soulful read of Thad Jones’s lovely ballad “A Child Is Born.” These are two standards that his quartet refreshes through sparkling arrangements tailor-made for Blum’s clean, round tone. It’s a comforting sound whether he’s on nylon string, acoustic, or electric guitar.

Credit producer, bassist, and Blum’s teacher Jim Stinnett for sustaining a warm vibe that gives the band, including pianist Brad Smith and drummer Dom Moio, plenty of opportunity to cook and swing. It's a diverse set of tunes, highlighted by the record’s best track, “Castle Rock.”

Enthusiastically recommended, this first album by the melodically gifted Blum will leave you swooning.

This article is from the February 2015 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More information.