Review by Brad Walseth
New York guitarist Doug Munro has released ten albums as a leader, and has served as a sideman, producer and arranger for artists like Dr. John, Michael Brecker and Dr. Lonnie Smith. He has also written several books on jazz improvisation. It is somewhat of surprise then that Munro is not more well known, because as Dr. Lonnie Smith says "he can flat out play!" And on this 2.0 release, Munro does just that.
A more stripped down trio session that 2004's original Big Boss Bossa Nova recording, this one features Munro's working trio: bassist Michael Goetz with drummers Jay Devlin and Jason Anderson splitting tracks. The band comes firing out of the blocks with a fiery version of Chick Corea's "Spain." Still one of the best Latin/fusion compositions of the modern era, it is especially suited for Munro's nylon string pyrotechnics.
Munro shows more of his straight ahead chops on the bossa styled version of Monk's "Bemsha Swing," while the chiming angular original "Sticks N' Stones" rocks at times, which makes the next tune a bit less of a shock. Showing a great sense of humor as well as a finger on the pulse of the times, Munro tackles folk/rock slacker Beck's "Devil's Haircut," something I doubt you’d find many other jazz artists doing, and strangely makes it work. In fact this version should be on the radio as you can’t help but grin when you hear it. Who knew Beck could swing? (Actually Munro is known for covering modern pop tunes like the Beastie Boys)
Munro doesn't hesitate to utilize effects, and on the aforementioned "Devil's Haircut" he gets all jiggy with a tone that sounds like he's playing underwater. Fortunately it's delicious fun. Meanwhile, nice versions of Sonny Rollins' "Blue Seven" and Wayne Shorter's "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" are joined by solid originals by Munro, like the rollicking "A Day at the Races," the dark "Something I Heard" and the lovely folkish "Prayer." And an exhilarating, more than 10 minute take on Freddie Hubbard’s "Little Sunflower," may be the true highlight. For fans of jazz guitar with a Latin/bossa feel and plenty of other elements added in, Munro's new release is a must.