Graham Dechter – Quotes & Reviews

Takin’ It There represents a push and pull between two contrasting ideas. The first idea being that you search outside of yourself as a means for personal discovery. The second idea being that everything you’ll discover about yourself and the world around you is accessible from within.” – Graham Dechter, Jazz guitarist

Graham Dechter – Takin’ It There

California Report Music Critics Go Under the Radar
Andy Gilbert’s Best Releases of 2012
8) Graham Dechter, “Takin’ It There” (Capri Records)
A blazing young Los Angeles guitarist who doesn’t allow his prodigious technique to overwhelm good taste, Graham Dechter shows that swinging hard never goes out of style. Accompanied by a superlative rhythm section with pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, he confidently establishes his own personality while paying tribute to fret forebears like Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel.
It’s apparent that the so-called sophomore jinx does not apply to Graham Dechter, for his second CD is one of the best releases by a jazz guitarist in 2012. Dechter replaced the talented Anthony Wilson in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the age of 19, and the now 26-year-old is once again accompanied on Takin’ It There by his employers, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, as well as the orchestra’s pianist Tamir Hendelman, just as they completed the quartet on his well-received 2009 debut Right On Time. Dechter seemingly has it all as a jazz guitarist. Whether playing sparsely or elaborately, pristinely or with down-home grit, Dechter’s ample technique and spirited determination allow him to bring to fruition any idea his fertile imagination might conceive. A catchy intro by Dechter and Hendelman sets the pace for Wes Montgomery’s grooving “Road Song.” The rapport of this quartet appears to come naturally from their long musical relationship. Dechter’s surging solo displays his chops and unassuming expressiveness. Hendelman follows with soulful fervor, and Clayton’s authoritative, resounding improv and bass lines in support of the others leave a lasting impression. Hamilton takes a balanced approach, kicking and prodding but also laying back just enough to give the soloists their freedom. Barney Kessel’s “Be Deedle Dee Do” has a similar guitar/piano opening, leading to the lighthearted medium tempo blues theme as delivered by Dechter. The leader’s delightful solo finds him bending notes, riffing, darting through single-note lines, and laying down some “heavy” chords. Clayton then sermonizes with knowing command. “Chega De Saudade (No More Blues)” commences with zesty give-and-take between Hendelman, Clayton, and Hamilton, with Dechter finally delving into the familiar Jobim melody. Again Clayton’s bass is an undeniable focal point in support, with the crisp pianist and drummer not far behind. Dechter’s solo is a rapid-fire, ever changing work of art, and the out chorus by this well-oiled unit packs a serious, fully satisfying punch. Clayton’s sensual arco prelude to Dechter’s “Together and Apart” hints at “Never Let Me Go,” as does the theme of the engaging ballad, which also evokes Jobim’s “Dindi.” Dechter and Hendelman exchange lyrically heartfelt solo passages that gradually reach an emotion-laden peak. The pianist then joins Clayton in understated conversation prior to the reflective, interactive reprise.

Dechter’s close friend, pianist Josh Nelson, wrote the title tune “Takin’ It There” especially for him. It’s a bluesy line that, along with Dechter’s tone on this track, reminds one at first of Kenny Burrell. His improvisation, however, enters George Benson territory in its swift, nimble phraseology and overall polished execution. Hendelman and Clayton maintain the flowing, earthy momentum in their respective turns, and Hamilton gets to stretch out heatedly on the closing vamp. George Coleman’s “Father” has a warmhearted melody that invites a well-constructed, involving Dechter solo, and a rollicking one from Hendelman. Clayton and Hamilton are in inspiring lockstep, with the drummer showing off his impeccable and unbeatable brush work. The arrangement of the standard “Come Rain or Come Shine” is as upbeat and funky as Wes Montgomery’s rendition on his great Full House album, sans of course the slithery sax of Johnny Griffin. Dechter’s extended solo negotiates the tune’s twists and turns with verve, a persistent curiosity, and a lack of stock phrases, once more proving that he’s a guitarist to reckon with. It’s not every day that a musician courageously couples an original, like “Amanda,” with a revered standard, such as “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” but Dechter successfully pulls it off. His charming ballad, which actually at one point veers towards “The End of a Love Affair,” segues neatly into Cole Porter’s tune. Dechter’s sensitive and deliberate playing on this selection makes every note count, as tenderness wisely trumps showmanship. Hendelman’s glowing solo keeps to the same formula, and Clayton’s resonant designs, along with Hamilton’s exquisite brush patterns, provide a perfect foundation for this overall sublime performance. Clayton’s undulating “greasy” vehicle for Dechter, “Grease for Graham,” enables the guitarist to plumb the depths of countrified soulful feeling in an assured, mature manner. Hendelman is no slouch in this department, as his assertive exploration indicates. Clayton and Hamilton are influentially with them every step of the way. Hamilton’s electrifying intro and breaks during the intense theme presentation of Lee Morgan’s “Hocus Pocus” do justice to the hard bop classic. Dechter prances fleetly through the changes, in total control. Hendelman again matches his dexterity and enthusiasm, and Hamilton’s breakneck yet poised drum solo and organic participation during the reprise help elevate this track to the level of “must hear.” Reviewed by, Scott Albin, (December 4, 2012)
GRAHAM DECHTER is the guitarist on the renowned Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, a seat that he has held down for seven years despite being only 26 years of age.  For Takin’ It There (Capri – 74117) he has called upon his fellow rhythm section players from the C-HJO, pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton to come along for this joyous musical adventure.  Dechter is front and center for the ten-song program, and he is an exceptional player, but the contributions of his bandmates cannot be over emphasized.  This is a quartet with a feeling of balance that should serve as a role model for similar jazz combos.  They are equally at home with any tempo, whether it be on a hunting ballad like Dechter’s own “Alone & Apart,” bouncing through the title track with a bluesy feeling or pulling out all of the stops on on Lee Morgan’s “Hocus Pocus.”  The album closes with a combination of Dechter’s lovely “Amanda” and Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” and I found myself sorry that they were saying goodbye until I hit the play button again on my CD player. Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz, (January 2013)
It’s always a treat when a young player arrives on the scene with an understanding of what came before him. Dechter is a traditional jazz player who lets us know right off the bat that he gets it by offering a swinging version of Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song.” Not content to just hang with the original melody, although he represents that wonderfully, Dechter supplies a solo that darts through the changes with single-note ease before he throws in some Wes-like octaves and block chords that would surely meet the master’s approval. The rhythm section sparkles. Veterans John Clayton on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and Tamir Henderson on piano are the perfect backing for Dechter’s fretwork. Many of the songs here are covers. Barney Kessel’s “Be Deedle Dee Do” gets a bluesy take that finds Dechter’s solo showing a player mature beyond his years. It’s soulful and tasty. The chestnut, “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” features a blues intro before it makes its way to the familiar melody. A swinging solo from the guitarist builds beautifully as he leaves hints of the melody throughout while still forming an imaginative improvisation. There are a couple of Dechter originals on the record that show him taking the music different places. “Together & Apart” is a melancholy ballad with solos from Dechter and Henderson seeming to imply both ends of the song’s title. The other original, “Amanda,” is part of a medley with Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” Again the guitarist writes a gorgeous ballad that is in contrast to the swing delivered on the covers. Dechter should be on the scene for many years to come. Only in his twenties, he shows both a skill and maturity that many players don’t find until middle age. Reviewed by, John Heidt, (January, 2013)
Los Angeles guitarist Graham Dechter wowed listeners with his 2009 debut as a leader, Right On Time, and he hits it out of the par again eith his sophomore release, Takin’ It There. The collection leans more toward calssics than originals, but Dechter’s musicianship and arrangements are full of life. A sprightly arrangement of “Hocus Pocus” combines Dechter’s nimble performance with his rare and sophisticated sense of swing. An extended into underscores John Clayton and Tamir Hendelman. Clayton’s blues “Grease For Graham” sees Dechter having a little fun with bent notes and trills. On Jobim’s “Chega De Saudade,” Dechter plays off Hendelman, the guitarist issuing a series of melancholy lines before blazing out on his own with the melody as it becomes increasingly jubilant. Dechter’s “Together and Apart” moves between mournfulness and joy, though it never takes off in flight as so much of the rest of the disc is able to do. Reviewed by, Jennifer Odell,  ***1/2. (January, 2013)
The ranks of 20-something guitarists emulating the 40-ish contemporary jazz icon Kurt Rosenwinkle or the slightly older inspirations Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Ben Monder are legion. And then there’s Graham Dechter. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native finds all the sustenance he needs in such squarely in-the-tradition heroes as Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel and Grant Green. With his articulate and vivid playing, Dechter’s proving that the classic, blues-drenched jazz guitar style hasn’t gone out of style, and that a sufficiently serious and talented artist can find his own voice, without simply copying the past. As he was on his 2009 debut disc Right On Time, Dechter’s joined by the veteran Los Angeles jazzmen John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums, as well as the 40-ish pianist Tamir Hendelman. The rapport of the quartet’s members could not be tighter, given their interwoven playing histories. For example, Hendelman has played in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra since 2001. Dechter joined that band when he was 19. On Takin’ It There, the group romps through 10 smartly constructed arrangements, kicking off with two nods to Dechter’s stylistic forebears Montgomery (a turbo-charged version of “Road Song”) and Kessel (that guitarist’s twanging blues “Be Deedle De Do”). For the group, Jobim’s “Chega De Saudade” is an opportunity for an elaborate, bright-tempoed performance that highlights Hamilton’s samba-style grooving. There’s a lot of swagger on a version of George Coleman’s Father, Clayton’s shuffle “Grease For Graham” (during which the guitarist channels a bit of B.B. King), and the title track by pianist Josh Nelson, a gospel-tinted tune that sounds like an update on what Hank Mobley, among others, used to write. On these tracks, Hendelman threatens to steal the show with his rootsy, hard-hitting, post-Oscar Peterson playing. While Dechter’s virtuosic streak is apparent on every track, a racing version of Lee Morgan’s “Hocus Pocus” brings the sheer speed of his fingers and thinking to the forefront. Unlike more than a few jazz players in their 20s, Dechter gets to the emotional core of things when he plays ballads, whether it’s his own “Together and Apart”, a pretty tune that has a little bit of a “Love For Sale” thing going for it, or the disc-closing combination of “Amanda”, a solo guitar recitation, and “Everytime We Say Goodbye.” The last piece is the only one that struck me as a bit over-arranged, although by the end, I was won over by the feeling of Dechter’s playing. Of course, I had been on his side all along while listening to Takin’ It There. Reviewed by, Peter Hum, Blogs.Ottawa (November 1, 2012)
A quartet is usually a self-contained collection of four, but sometimes these groupings serve as part of a greater whole; guitarist Graham Dechter’s foursome does both. Dechter, drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist John Clayton and pianist Tamir Hendelman serve as the rhythmic power source for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra but they can also stand on their own in fine, grooving fashion. Dechter, in his mid-twenties at the time of this recording, has been keeping company with Clayton and Hamilton since he joined the rhythm section of their illustrious orchestra when he was only nineteen. He played the hell out the guitar back then and he’s continued to mature at a rapid pace ever since. Right On Time (Capri, 2009) gave him an opportunity to spread his wings and fly as a leader for the first time, fronting the very same rhythm unit that gave him his first big break, and Takin’ It There is round two from this team. These guys have all made their individual and collective reputations on the fact that they keep better time than a Rolex, so this fact isn’t really worth an at-length discussion. The leader’s style, direction and vision, however, deserve comment. Dechter may be operating in the present, but it doesn’t seem to be his favorite time. The young guitarist is a ’50s and ’60s jazz devotee and it comes through in every way. His song choices, which reference guitar greats like Wes Montgomery (“Road Song”) and Barney Kessel (“Be Deedle Dee Do”), bossa nova kingpin Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Chega De Saudade”) and trumpeter Lee Morgan (“Hocus Pocus”) are the first indication. His playing, which is rooted in the Montgomery, Kessel and Herb Ellis schools, is the second signpost. Smoking single note lines, blues-based rejoinders and clean-toned melodies, which nod to those three guitar greats at different times, sing forth from Dechter’s axe. Familiar material is around every corner on this disc, but that doesn’t mean it’s run of the mill in execution. “Chega De Saudade” carries a certain degree of intensity in its being that’s rarely encountered in other takes on this classic and “Come Rain Or Come Shine” is given a winning makeover. When Dechter and company put the classics aside, they prove equally capable of creating down-home feels and/or musical finery. “Together & Apart” is a mellow original from the leader which opens on some beautiful, cello-like arco work from Clayton, Josh Nelson’s title track takes a little while to catch fire, but Dechter and Hendelman eventually fan the flames with some fine soloing, and Clayton’s “Grease For Graham,” powered by Hamilton’s shuffling stick work, is a gas. While some of the positive feedback for this recording will likely be focused on the established veterans, Dechter deserves his due. He may have the luxury of playing with the cream of the crop, but they don’t carry him. Graham Dechter’s playing is capable, confident and charismatic in every way.  Reviewed by, Dan Bilawsky, (October 10, 2012)

Track Listing: Road Song; Be Deedle Dee Do; Chega De Saudade (No More Blues); Together & Apart; Takin’ It There; Father; Grease For Graham; Hocus Pocus; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Amanda/Everytime We Say Goodbye. Personnel: Graham Dechter: guitar; Tamir Hendelman: piano; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums.
Jazz, ideally, should accommodate risk-takers as well as traditionalists; in other words, there is room for Medeski, Martin & Wood, Dave Douglas and the Bad Plus as well as artists who do more conventional things. And Takin’ It There, which is Los Angeles-based guitarist Graham Dechter’s second album as a leader, underscores the fact that he is very much a traditionalist.  That is, he is a traditionalist in the hard bop sense. Graham is only 26, but stylistically, Takin’ It There  is a throwback to the hard bop guitar playing of the 1950s and 1960s. Wes Montgomery and early George Benson are major influences on Dechter’s guitar playing, and he shows an awareness of Barney Kessel and Jimmy Raney as well. So no one is going to accuse Dechter of bringing something radically new to jazz guitar. But if a musician is going to be derivative, the important thing is to be enjoyably derivative—and Dechter is enjoyably derivative on material that includes George Coleman’s “Father,” Barney Kessel’s “Be Deedle Dee Do,” Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” and Lee Morgan’s  “Hocus Pocus.” Anyone who is familiar with all of those tunes deserves a pat on the back for having more than a casual interest in jazz, and Dechter deserves a pat on the back for doing his homework and not limiting himself to overdone standards. There are a few songs on Takin’ It There that fall into the beaten-to-death warhorse category, including Harold Arlen’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Chega de Saudade (No More Blues).” But Dechter doesn’t inundate listeners with warhorses, and his willingness to unearth quality songs that haven’t been beaten to death is a plus. Dechter swings hard on “Hocus Pocus,” which finds him playing at an insanely fast tempo and leaves no doubt that he has thoroughly mastered his instrument; playing bop changes at that tempo is not easy. But while “Hocus Pocus” is a major chopsfest, Dechter shows listeners how lyrical and melodic he can be on “Come Rain or Come Shine” (which he takes a comfortable medium tempo), the pensive “Together and Apart” (a Dechter original that sounds a bit like Jobim’s “Dindi”) and Dechter’s ballad “Amanda” (which is part of a medley that also includes Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye”). Another one of Dechter’s strong points is his ability to play the blues with feeling, which is what he does on “Be Deedle Dee Do” and John Clayton’s “Grease for Graham.” Clayton, in fact, is present on this album; Dechter’s accompaniment consists of Tamir Hendelman on acoustic piano, Clayton on upright bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums (this is the same quartet Dechter led on his previous album, Right on Time). Clayton and Hamilton, of course, are among the three musicians who founded the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (the third is saxophonist Jeff Clayton, who is John Clayton’s brother). Dechter joined that big band seven years ago when he was only 19, which explains why his chops are as strong as they are; Hamilton and the Clayton brothers have high standards. Takin’ It There doesn’t pretend to reinvent the wheel, but for those who enjoy straight-ahead jazz guitar of the Montgomery/Kessel/early Benson variety, it is a consistently likable outing. Reviewed by, Alex Henderson, (October 2012)
When Graham Dechter opens his album with Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” he invites comparisons to one of the greatest jazz guitar slingers in history. It’s a bold move but it pays off. Right from the start it’s clear that Dechter can hold his own with the top-tier of the competition. If you haven’t heard of him, Dechter is a young, west-coast guitarist who has played with artists like Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Three members of the latter group – John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums) and Tamir Hendelman (piano) – round out Dechter’s quartet, adding a great deal, and sharing in some of the arranging duties. All four band members go into overdrive -with wonderful solos and forceful ensemble work – on the title tune by another fine west coast musician, Josh Nelson (who also helped arrange the track). On “Takin’ It There” and just about every other cut, Dechter plays with jaw-dropping dexterity and imagination. The speed with which he plays on Lee Morgan’s “Hocus Pocus” is simply astounding. Dechter contributes two compositions to the album, the best of which is “Amanda.” But the highlights here are his covers of other writers’ songs. And he picks them well. The album ends with a rendition of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” that is simply gorgeous. Reviewed by, Ron Netsky, (September 19, 2012)
This is an album that grabs you by the throat from the opening notes of track 1 and doesn’t release you until the fading of the final track. Performed by guitarist Graham Dechter and a trio of hot musicians, Takin’ It There swings mightily but also has a streak of post-bop running through it. But overall it is the adventure of four musicians swinging as hot as any 50’s big band on a selection of covers from the great jazz songbook. Along with Mr Dechter on guitar the other musicians are: Tamir Hendelman – piano, John Clayton – bass, and Jeff Hamilton – drums. Along with two tracks written by Mr Dechter, other composers featured on this album include: Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lee Morgan, Harold Arlen and George Coleman. The titles are: “Road Song,” “Be Deedle Dee Do,” “Chega De Saudade,” “Together & Apart,” “Takin’ It There,” “Father,” “Grease For Graham,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “Amanda/Every Time We Say Goodbye.” Being no expert on guitars I think Mr. Dechter is using a semi-acoustic guitar which has a mellow tone but also a strong bite when needed. He certainly has a distinctive sound that is deceptively easy on the ear and makes those tricky bits sound simple. When the quartet are in flight it sounds like a much larger band and the sound goes from intimate to large very often throughout the album. Takin’ It There is a great album, full of musicality and good vibes. Highly recommended. Reviewed by, John M. Peters, MusicWatch #7, (Oct. 2012)
This is the second CD by guitarist Graham Dechter of Los Angeles.   He is part of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. It could be considered a “band within a band” in that his mates on this CD include pianist Tamil Hendelman, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton.  There is a mix of tunes—some familiar, some not so familiar and some originals.  But all are swinging, melodious, straight-ahead jazz. In my house, there is also the “kitchen test.”  When I am listening to recordings, a high accolade rarely comes from a voice from the kitchen, “I like that; who’s playing?” This one also passed the kitchen test with high honors. Serious jazz listeners are likely already familiar with bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, founders of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.  Less familiar, perhaps, is pianist Tamir Hendelman a talented Israeli native now a US citizen also residing in Los Angles. He won the Yamaha national keyboard competition at age 14 and earned a degree in music composition from Eastman School of Music. He has his own trio and has produced his own CDs. Dechter is 26 and a third-generation musician. Grandfather Ted Dechter toured with Stan Kenton and then had a career as a jazz educator. His father, Brad Dechter, was saxophonist and Hollywood arranger.  His mother Maureen Dechter is a vocalist with extensive knowledge of the jazz literature. Reviewed by, F. Norman Vickers, Jazz Society of Pensacola, (September 12, 2012)
For his sophomore effort as a leader, hotshot Los Angeles guitarist Graham Dechter reunites with the rhythm section of his debut (Right on Time, also on Capri): pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton, and the great drummer Jeff Hamilton, all of them his colleagues in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. For Takin’ It There he has put together a set of standards (“Come Rain or Come Shine,” Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song”) as well as a couple of very nice originals of his own and one written by Clayton. Dechter’s classical training shows up in some interesting aspects of his playing, particularly in his approach to arrangements: the heads of these tunes are sometimes much more carefully sculpted than the norm in straight-ahead jazz, and the instrumental balance is impeccable throughout—partly because the charts are written that way, and partly because Dechter is a selfless and openhearted player who clearly appreciates the world-class quality of his accompanists and loves to listen to them. His solos contain all the requisite nods to his elders (listen to the octave runs on “Road Song”), and if this album has any weakness at all it’s in a seeming reluctance to strike out on his own too aggressively—I kept finding myself thinking how lovely and enjoyable the album is and wondering when it was going to surprise me. But there’s nothing wrong with a groovingly, swingingly solid straight-ahead guitar quartet album. Nothing wrong at all. Grade: B+ Reviewed by, Rick Anderson, (September, 12, 2012)
I know that the world must go forward, but I always like when it sometimes revisits itself – artistically – in a new way. Does that sentence make any sense? Put a different way, while change is inevitable, it’s nice when a product of that change, for example, young guitarist, Graham Dechter, plays Jazz on the instrument in a manner that expresses a contemporary style and, at the same time, evokes shades of the great Jazz guitarists that have gone before him such as Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall and Jimmy Raney, to name just a few. Graham is very much today’s young man: he uses an Andersen guitar, not a Gibson model, he has a website rather than just an obscure listing in a Musician Union Local Directory and you can follow him on all the major social networking sites instead of having to use word-of-mouth or be fortuitous enough to find a newspaper listing for his next gig. Yet, like the bygone greats of the instrument, he does use Fender amplifiers and D’addario guitar strings, maintains and active performance schedule and has the good sense to associate himself with Jazz veterans such as bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. I realize that I’m pushing the point a bit, but you get the idea. How can you know where you want to go if you don’t know where you’ve been? As is the case with our recent feature on Fred Hersch’s new Village Vanguard CD, Ann Braithwaite and her great team at Braithwaite & Katz are handling the public and media relations for Graham’s new recording Takin’ It There which will be released on September 18, 2012 on Capri Records [74117-2]. “Poised and polished, suave and swinging, the young Los Angeles guitarist Graham Dechter is no one-off wunderkind. In 2009 he released a confident and dauntingly impressive debut album, Right On Time (Capri) featuring the acclaimed pianist Tamir Hendelman and superlative rhythm section tandem of bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton (his long time employers in the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra). Dechter took his time following up, and in the ensuing years the guitarist has grown by leaps and bounds. Slated for release by Capri on September 18, Takin’ It There captures Dechter with the same illustrious cast exploring a program of well-selected standards, jazz classics and originals. Steeped in the jazz tradition, he’s a commanding player who has found a sleek, incisive and ebulliently expressive voice of his own. What’s most impressive about the Los Angeles native is his orchestral sensibility, a dynamically expansive approach to interpreting material that requires exquisite chemistry and calibration. The fact that the quartet has spent countless hours as the engine of the swaggering Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra means that they can roar, whisper, glide or gallop as befits the moment at hand. He credits his early classical training for playing a major role in shaping his group concept. “Playing in and composing for orchestras at an early age made me aware of how each individual instrument plays a significant role in comprising a piece as a whole,” says Dechter, 26. “The same goes for jazz. Whenever I play a solo, I’m constantly listening to and feeding off of the other musicians in the quartet. Everything they play affects what I play.”

The album opens with Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song,” a piece that grooves with such brisk authority it practically levitates. The group arrangement establishes the quartet’s modus operand! right out of the gate, elaborating on Montgomery’s buoyant melody without taking it down another route altogether. More than a hat tip to another fret master, Dechter takes a sizzling, medium tempo saunter through Barney Kessel’s playful blues “Be Deedle Dee Do,” a tune introduced in 1958 by Kessel’s Poll Winners trio with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne (masters who mentored Clayton and Hamilton, respectively). The graceful classical-influenced introduction to “Chega De Saudade”, essentially an interactive dialogue between Hendelman, Clayton and Hamilton, casts Jobim’s enduring bossa nova in a revealing new light. With a melody at times reminiscent of Jobim’s “Dindi,” Dechter’s “Together and Apart” showcases the guitarist’s gift for rendering a ballad with concision and emotional detail, a reflective mood established by Clayton’s haunting arco introduction. Clayton contributes “Grease for Graham,” an irresistible vehicle for Dechter to get down in the grit. Hamilton kicks off Lee Morgan’s hard bop anthem “Hocus Pocus” with some beautiful trap work, revving the engine before the quartet shifts into high gear. In many ways, the album’s key is the title track, composed for Dechter by his close friend, pianist Josh Nelson. Something of a manifesto, it’s a swaggering tune that feels utterly contemporary. “The title of the tune itself gave me a lot of ideas conceptually in terms of how to pick the rest of the songs,” Dechter says. For me, Takin’ It There represents a push and pull between two contrasting ideas. The first idea being that you search outside of yourself as a means for personal discovery. The second idea being that everything you’ll discover about yourself and the world around you is accessible from within. This CD is really about the process of balancing those two things; a process that is somewhat similar to what I deal with on a day-to-day basis as a musician: trying to find a way stay true to my roots and influences while at the same time striving to say something new and original.” Of course, it helps if your roots are as deep and well nourished as Dechter’s a third generation musician, he grew up in a supremely sophisticated musical household. His grandfather, trombonist Ted Dechter, spent decades as an esteemed music teacher in the Los Angeles public school system after touring and recording with Stan Kenton. His father, saxophonist Brad Dechter, is a veteran Hollywood orchestrator and arranger who has contributed to more than 250 feature film scores and numerous television shows, while also arranging for luminaries such as McCoy Tyner, Al Jarreau, Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand. His mother, Maureen Dechter, is a top-shelf vocalist with encyclopedic knowledge of the American Songbook. Needless to say, Graham soaked up a vast amount of music while growing up. After a brief run of piano lessons at five, he switched to the violin, which he studied assiduously for 10 years. Drawn to the guitar in junior high as a musical hobby, he became a dedicated student of the instrument by the age of 16. Largely a self-taught guitarist during his early years, he experienced a series of epiphanies while studying at his high school, the Idyllwild Arts Academy, with the acclaimed bassist Marshall Hawkins (whose credits include Miles Davis, Shirley Horn and Richie Cole). During the time that Dechter was focusing on classical music and following in his father’s footsteps as a film composer, Hawkins introduced him to improvisation and showed Dechter that he could fully express himself in the jazz idiom. “He was all about time, swing, telling a story when you solo – basically, all of the things that are virtually impossible to teach, yet, somehow, he managed to teach them,” Dechter says. “More than anything, he conveyed the spirit of the music to his students, in a way that only someone who’s been there and lived the jazz lifestyle can.” After graduating from Idyllwild, Dechter enrolled in the Eastman School of Music’s jazz studies program, but after a year Hamilton recruited him for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, taking over a chair previously filled by the great Anthony Wilson. At 19 he was the youngest member of the talent-laden orchestra, and in many ways the ensemble has served as an on-the-job doctoral program. He’s forged a deep connection with rhythm section mate Tamir Hendelman, the virtuosic Israeli-born pianist who is best known as the instrumental foil for a glittering cast of divas, including Tierney Sutton, Natalie Cole, Roberta Gambarini, Jackie Ryan, and Barbra Streisand. Hendelman is also a longtime member of Hamilton’s stellar trio, and their combustible chemistry is evident throughout Takin’ It There. Hamilton and Clayton, self-described best friends, have been inextricably linked for almost four decades, from their early years with pianist Monty Alexander through their ongoing relationship with Diana Krall (another great artist they mentored). Throughout the album, Dechter gives his collaborators plenty of room to stretch out.

“With Jeff, John and Tamir, I have this amazing palette of colors to work with,” Dechter says. “Jeff is a master orchestrator and can get such a wide variety of sounds out of his drums and cymbals, whether it be with sticks, brushes or hands. John, along with having a huge pizzicato sound, has one of the most gorgeous arco sounds of any bass player on the planet. And Tamir is a complete musician in every sense of the word. There’s virtually no end to what he can do musically and pianistically. Taking all of this into consideration, it would be insane for me to hog the ball and not feature all of them.” Recorded after a week of gigs, Takin’ It There sums up Dechter’s musical journey so far and points to a blindingly bright future. Learning from the best, he’s put their advice and examples into practice, playing with a kind of drive and fearless imagination that sets him apart from so many of his fellow guitarists. He credits his bandmates with pointing the way, noting that bassist Clayton leads by example, always playing “with honesty and clarity; something I strive for each and every time I play my instrument.” Dechter also notes drummer Hamilton as being the first person to get him thinking about his career in a way that extended outside of his immediate comfort zone and immediate boundaries. “Like John, he got me thinking about the big picture of my music and gave me the push and inspiration to really pursue my dreams and shoot for the top.” With Takin’ It There, Dechter hits the mark. For order information, you can go to Graham’s website at, or to or to any of the major online or retail distributors. Isn’t it great when the more the world changes, the more it stays the same? Reviewed by, Steven A. Cerra, (September 9, 2012)
On Takin’ It There, guitarist Graham Dechter lightly bears the burden of being a third generation accomplished musician on the affectionate, smooth “Father”; appreciates what came before on the classic “Come Rain or Come Shine”; and bravely brings a dash of classical to bossa nova jazz on Jobim’s “Chega De Saudade.” (So the album press release had that last point right. There’s good PR, too, you know.) If the above strikes you as wide ranging, Dechter is certainly that. Accomplished would also be right. As would inventive and thoughtful. On Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye” paired with his own “Amanda” he hits all the right emotional notes. And silences. Ably supported and sharing solos with pianist Tamir Hendelman. “Together and Apart” has similar emotional depth. I felt like I’d heard a story of regret. Oh yeah, there’s also the energy-filled title song and a great take on Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” to lead off. Next Graham, how about some songs with an accomplished female jazz singer. There’s a bunch on the current scene to pick from. And, by the way, love your suit. Reviewed by, Brian Arsenault, International Review of Music, (September 5, 2012).
A must for guitar buffs! Graham Dechter, a young guitarist from Los Angeles, lives up to his hype as being poised and polished, suave and swinging – he is all these things and more. Both Dechter and pianist Hendelman paid their dues in the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and it is fitting that the co-leaders of that orchestra complete the quartet here. Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” Barney Kessel’s “Be Deedle De Do” reveal Dechter to be able to groove with the best and yet retain his own personality. Listen to the lyricism of Jobim’s “Chega De Saudade” a magical experience! The angular lines flow with the ease of a season pro and yet this is only his second album. Dechter’s original, “Together and Apart” is a reflective even melancholic piece – underpinned as it is by soulful arco bass from Clayton – that seems to gradually emerge like a Night-Blooming Jasmine blossoming in the shades of evening before slowly returning to whence it came from. It’s back in the groove for “Takin’ it There” with some driving piano from Hendelman who is a force to be reckoned with on this disc. Hamilton has an impressive drum work out on this one. George Coleman’s “Father” is another lyrical piece that seems tailor-made for Dechter who sails throw the changes effortlessly – I say “Effortlessly” but think of the hours of practice he must have put in to get to this level! Likewise, Hendelman whose solo is also on the money. I’m running out of superlatives, it’s that kind of disc, suffice to say John Clayton’s “Grease For Graham” keeps the momentum going with some down home blues, Lee Morgan’s “Hocus Pocus” – full of bop licks that have never dated and kick-ass drumming from Hamilton – “Come Rain or Come Shine” Harold Arlen was possibly the most blues orientated of the American composers and Dechter gets to the heart of the tune and finds harmonic depths the composer himself probably didn’t dream existed! To conclude, an original by Dechter, “Amanda” and Cole Porter’s “Every Time we Say Goodbye” (“End of a Love Affair’s” in there too.) An emotional ending to a lovely disc. Reviewed by, (September 1, 2012)
While piano and trumpet releases seemed to dot the landscape last year, 2012 would appear to the year of the guitarist and the September 18, 2012 release from Graham Dechter should push him right to the front of the pack. The remaining ensemble is rounded out with stellar drummer Jeff Hamilton, prolific bassist John Clayton and the highly acclaimed Tamir Hendelman on piano. Dechter plays clean and sharp. Single note runs with a lyrical sense of purpose and a swing that is undeniable. Graham Dechter’s keen sense of harmonics and their development add a great deal of flavor and a very individual voice to the current state of modern jazz guitar. Musical frame of reference? Tough call as you hear bits and pieces of influences that could include such luminaries as Kenny Burrell and Jim Hall but with an individual style and flair that is all Dechter’s creation. A true artist at work. Standard, jazz classics and some well penned originals have Dechter poised for potential greatness thanks to him time spent in the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Combine the blatantly obvious chemistry between the members of this 4tet and the ability to shift dynamics on the fly with some delightful reharmonizations that are incredibly engaging, especially “Come Rain Or Come Shine.” The classic Wes Montgomery tune “Road Song” kicks the release off in style. A groove you can use. Swing you feel in your hips and hear with your feet. Bassist Clayton offers up the tune “Grease For Graham” allowing Dechter to contribute what I like to call his “jazz nasty.” A gritty if not infectious number that other guitarists would do well to emulate. The Lee Morgan hard bop tune “Hocus Pocus” showcases the talents of drummer Hamilton. Close friend pianist Josh Nelson who currently plays with Sara Gazarek contributes the title track “Takin’ It There” which borders on the more contemporary side of the jazz street. A somewhat conceptual release with the idea being to represent the push and pull between different schools of musical thought. Going outside your comfort zone and a sense of discovery that would you are shooting for may all ready dwell deep within your musical soul. The key is to let it out. A sincere respect for jazz tradition coupled with the sincere desire to push the music forward has this release locked and loaded as an immediate head turner when it hits the streets! Dechter’s musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up and this is a release you simply can not pass up! The great John Clayton said it best, “This is a bad ass record!” For me, this 4tet swings like a beast and is easily on my year end best of list! Reviewed by, brent black, (August 24, 2012)
Graham Dechter – Right On Time

Graham Dechter’s young career is off to an auspicious start. A guitarist from Los Angeles who has already established himself as a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, he makes a strong CD debut covering a range of familiar and lesser-known standards. Joining Dechter in the straight ahead quartet setting of Right On Time are big-bandmates Jeff Hamilton on drums, John Clayton on bass and Tamir Hendelman on piano. The music combines a powerful and confident sense of swing, thoughtful small-group arrangements, warm guitar tone and tasteful blowing. For his first recording as a leader, Dechter couldn’t ask for a finer group of “sidemen” to work with; he clearly earned their support. Reviewed by, Ed Enright, (July, 2010)
A smooth, Wes Montgomery-influenced guitarist, Dechter benefits from the presence of the world-class rhythm tandem of bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. They swing effervescently on Thad Jones’ “Low Down” before settling into Jobim’s “Wave,” with brushmaster Hamilton doing his virtuosic thing beneath the luxurious melody. Dechter opens “The Nearness of You” as an unaccompanied guitar showcase before the full band (with pianist Tamir Hendelman) takes up an elegant reading of that Hoagy Carmichael nugget. They hit a relaxed accord on “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues” and Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone,” then swing out in exhilarating fashion on Johnny Hodges’ “Squatty Roo” and Ray Brown’s “Lined With a Groove.”  Reviewed by Bill Milkowski,
The best part of my “job” is getting the opportunity to check out wonderful players who I would normally never get to hear, if I had to rely on mainstream media. LA based Jazz Guitarist Graham Dechter is just such an artist. His debut CD as a leader, Right On Time, is chock full of musical goodness spread out over ten tunes that caters to a more mature swing style session than a fusion or contemporary jazz set. On the surface, this would not be that much of a surprise, except that Dechter, is still in his early 20’s, but sounds like he’s been playing for twice that long! From the opening track “Low Down” (thad Jones) to the final cut, “In A Mellow Tone” (Duke Ellington), it becomes quite obvious that Dechter has not wasted any time in getting to know the language that has made cats like Tal Farlow, Billy Bean, Chuck Wayne, Cal Collins, Sal Salvador, Herb Ellis, Kenny Burrell, Joe Puma and Chris Flory jazz guitar icons. It’s clear that Dechter has found his niche and is clearly capable of swinging with the best of them. And if you don’t take my word for it, just ask Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton, Michel Buble and other notable players on the scene today. The being said, Hamilton and Clayton, along with piano great Tamir Hendelman, join Dechter on his maiden voyage in a musical collaboration that swings hard, with each player providing stellar accompaniment and sophisticated improvisational aptitude. Dechter takes full advantage of the musical muscle offered him as he glides through the tunes with a warm, yet crisp attack that features plenty of swift lines, melodic development and tight arrangements. Dechter turns the swing style out wonderfully as he blows through the changes with a firm grasp of the harmonic possibilities at hand. There’s no showing off of blurring of styles as Dechter keeps his heart, head and hands in the swing game, with an honest representation and interpretation of the music and players who have come before him. He’s definitely blessed with an “old soul.” Dechter’s “old soul” also comes into play with the tunes he has chosen to introduce himself to the World with. They are a nice mix of standards and not often played tunes that feature fresh arrangements from Dechter and Hendleman. Tunes like “Low Down,” “Wave,” “I Aiin’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues,” “Broadway,” and “In A Mellow Tone,” are played by all with depth of musical character and seasoned familiarity. And while these tunes can definitely stand on their own, check out the smokin’ Johnny Hodges tune “Squatty Roo,” the Ray Brown tune “Lines With A Groove,” and the sensitive ballads “The Nearness of You” and “With Every Breath I Take” by Hoagy Carmichael and Cy Coleman Respectively. These tunes, along with the title track composed by Dechter’s father Brad Dechter, capture the fire, finesse and sensitivity one comes to expect from players twice Dechter’e age, yet Dechter embraces these elements like any seasoned pro. It’s no wonder heavy cats wanna play with him! Graham Dechter may not yet be a name you know at the moment, but is definitely a name you will most likely be hearing in the near future. I for one look forward to following Dechter’s career and highly recommend checking out his debut CD and assign it to your music collection. It’s a rare opportunity to get on the ground floor with a rising star, so now’s your chance.
Just a little, timely reminder that not every young whipper snapper is a slacker that thinks the world owes him a living. This 23 year old guitar man is an L.A. native and has pretty much been playing throughout his young life. If the name isn’t familiar, does being a member of Clayton Hamilton give him enough cred to grab your attention? Does having key cats from Clayton Hamilton follow his lead on this date help the cred bid any as well? Dechter has no problem with speaking the traditional jazz guitar vocabulary, and hitting all the right notes seems to come naturally, but he has enough rocket fuel in his attack, even when burning a low flame, that you will soon be mentioning his name in it’s own sentence. Working out on mostly covers, this sounds like a super hip club date session that jazzbos will be glad to tell their parents about. Always tasty throughout, this is high on the list of auspicious debuts.  Reviewed by Chris Spector, Midwest
Guitarist Graham Dechter’s debut album as a leader could hardly be more charming or enjoyable. He does several things just right: for one thing, he presents a program that demonstrates impeccable taste, nicely combining familiar standards “In a Mellow Tone,” “The Nearness of You,” with more obscure fare, Ray Brown’s “Lined with a Groove,” a nearly-forgotten Johnny Hodges bop number called “Squatty Roo.” For another, he quietly demonstrates his confidence by including a very fine pianist in the quartet – a move that many guitarists’ egos would prevent. And for another, he keeps his tempos moderate and his solos lyrical and self-possessed – a sure sign of that rarest of commodities, a virtuosic young guitarist with nothing to prove. None of this is to say that his playing isn’t expert or adventurous: he tackles the headlong “Squatty Roo,” with almost offhand grace and skill, and his playing on a strutting arrangement of “Nothing but the Blues,” bespeaks complete self-assurance as well as impressive musical invention. There are a few moments when you wish he would cut loose just a bit, especially on a rather pedestrian rendition of “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues,” (on which his solo sounds more like a string of pro forma blues clichés than an original statement), but for the most part his understatement works beautifully. His solidly swinging take on the Thad Jones composition “Low Down,” and his contrastingly gentle interpretation of the Jobim standard “Wave,” stand together as bookended examples of both his skill and his taste.  Reviewed by Rick Anderson,
If you like your jazz guitar without a bunch of frills, sprinkled with a healthy dollop of blues, loaded with sweet melodies and smart solos, young Mr. Dechter (a mere 23) has created a program for you. Over the past 5 years, he taken over the guitar chair in the Clayton-Hamilton Big Band and has logged time with violinist Regina Carter, pianist Bill Charlap, vocalists Kurt Elling and Roberta Gambarini, saxophonists Jimmy Heath and James Moody, and fellow guitarist John Pizzarelli (a small sample of his collaborations.) Jeff Hamilton (drums), Tamir Hendelman (piano) and John Clayton (bass) offer fine accompaniment on a program of standards, an original and a tune by the guitarists’ father, Brad Dechter (educator, orchestrator, and composer.) There’s nothing out of the ordinary but the music is played with such joy and devotion to interplay and a group sound that it is easy to like what one hears. Dechter’s tone is soft and “warm” (Clayton apropos description) amply displayed on ballads such as Cy Coleman’s “With Every Breath I Take” and the elder Dechter’s “Right on Time.” You have to like the way the quartet swings the devil out of Johnny Hodges’ “Squatty Roo” and Thad Jones’ “Low Down.” Graham Dechter’s debut disk is sweet stuff and an easy, fun, listen. Reviewed by Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant.
Guitarist Graham Dechter’s new album Right on Time from Capri Records is a winner. His youth belies his extraordinary talents, he is only 23 but plays with all the aplomb and assurance of a ‘been-around-the-block’ musician. He has been clever in his mix of selections for this album: Thad Jones’s Low Down; Hoagy Carmichael’s The Nearness of You; Johnny Hodges’s Squatty Roo; Duke Ellington’s I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues and In a Mellow Mood; and Ray Brown’s Lined With A Groove are some of the 10 tracks. I say clever because so often the new kids insist on showing off their compositional skills and musical dexterity before establishing some credibility. The buying public naturally react positively to ‘known’ artists and use standard tunes as a security blanket. It makes commercial sense to include a number of standards in an album released by an unknown muso. Graham Dechter and Capri Records have shown that they have a shrewd business sense and clever marketing skills. The band is Graham Dechter (guitar), Tamir Hendelman (piano), John Clayton (bass) and Jeff Hamilton (drums). Graham Dechter has played with Bill Charlap, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, John Faddis, Terell Stafford, Nancy Wilson and many others. If you collect ‘good’ jazz and/or enjoy relaxing without the ‘smooth’ influence, then Graham Dechter is your man. I predict a very warm and lucrative career for this young man. He can certainly include me as a fan! Reviewed by the Jassman.
Graham Dechter steps out from the guitars chair with the Hamilton/Clayton Jazz Orchestra, fronting a quartet with fellow Orchestra members Jeff Hamilton on drums, John Clayton on bass and Tamir Hendelman on piano. The familiarity amongst the players brings about an easy assimilation of style and development. Dechter is a lyrical player, his succulent notes drinking deep from the melody before going out into wider pastures, where he develops the theme with layered harmonies. The selections offer a wide enough panorama for him to show his dexterity and he swings lithely, whether playing ballads with deep emotion or going on energetic bop rides. Two ballads stand out. The haunting strains of Clayton’s bow are met with the gentle lilt of Dechter’s guitar on “With Every Breath That I Take.” The two build a slow fire, with Dechter changing the shades subtly. Add the conversation between Hamilton and Hendelman into the arrangement and the tune becomes one of the best on the CD. It’s a fine companion to the winsome “The Nearness Of You,” which is washed in soft shaded chords and crystalline notes that enunciate and explore the melody. Dechter brings the nuances to life and then swings, working the two moods into a seamless whole. “Broadway” beckons with its bebop groove. Dechter rides out into the open on the beat, his spirited romp wrapped in a blaze of colorful phrases. He stays on track with his ideas and forward movement, never slipping into excess. When the blues come calling, as they do on “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues,” Dechter roves a dreamy landscape. The blues feel is inherent in his ruminations, with an occasional snap or an elongated note on bent strings to add emphasis. It would be remiss not to mention Clayton, Hamilton and Hendelman. They not only support Dechter impeccably, they push him along and help him realize the compositions fully. But Dechter is the prime mover and, given his prowess here, Right On Time signals the presence of a bright, new talent. Reviewed by Jerry D’Souza, (December 3, 2009)

Memo to all those folks who insist that “real” jazz is dead, or at least on life support: do check out the leader/producing debut of 23-year-old guitarist Graham Dechter. His Right on Time supplies irrefutable evidence that the tradition is not only alive, but flourishing, because of young artists like Dechter who are both able and eager to carry the torch. The first thing you notice is Dechter’s warm, round tone; what registers next are his great time, technique, and expressiveness. Dechter has filled the guitar chair in the peerless Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra since the ripe old age of 19, when he was plucked from the Eastman School of Music by drummer and co-producer Jeff Hamilton, and his band mates here are three of the CHJO’s leading lights. It could be argued that there’s no better drummer, bassist, or pianist working today than Hamilton, John Clayton, and Tamir Hendelman, and after four years together Dechter clearly holds his own in that artistic company. The CD contains a varied and well-sequenced program that includes Duke Ellington (“In a Mellow Tone,” “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues”), Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Wave”), Dechter’s dad Brad (the tuneful title track), a rarely-heard Thad Jones (“Low Down”) and some funky Ray Brown (“Lined With a Groove,” where Clayton plays Brown’s exact intro line on Brown’s actual bass, which is now his). Most of the ten tracks gleam with energy; “Squatty Roo” is a whiz-bang tour de force all around, where Hendelman conjures Oscar Peterson with his blazing two-handed runs. There’s also a pair of lustrous ballads: “The Nearness of You” and “With Every Breath I Take,” with its achingly beautiful duet between Clayton’s burnished arco and Dechter’s elegant lines. Finally, the recording quality is so crisp and real that you can almost count every strand of Hamilton’s brushes, and his dazzling solos roll between the speakers, bringing the listener right smack into the middle of the band. All told, Right on Time provides an hour of terrific jazz as well as hope for its future. It’s a rare, powerful and uplifting combination—which also happens to swing like mad. Reviewed by, Dr. Judith Schlesinger, (November 26, 2009)
At just 23 years of age, Graham Dechter possesses a skill set on guitar that many would envy. With his debut recording, Right on Time, he proves that he’s got the right amount of moxie and restraint to carry an outfit through some truly bluesy, funky pieces. Dechter brings along bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and pianist Tamir Hendelman, building on the natural fusion of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra of which all are members. Right on Time serves to shed light on Dechter’s maturity as an artist. He shines as he allows his personal, passionate playing to articulate beautifully vibrant emotions and he excels adding texture and richness to his solos. He is a complete guitarist, working all the angles with equal parts control and adventurousness. The Los Angeles native began to study music at the age of 5, taking violin lessons and composing his own orchestral pieces. The early education more than served him well, enabling him the opportunity to discover guitar at Idyllwild Arts Academy. At the age of 19, Dechter became the youngest member of the acclaimed Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra after studying at the Eastman School of Music. There’s really no questioning Dechter’s pedigree as a musician, but what’s truly remarkable about Right on Time is how he subtly approaches the album’s more emotional moments. Endlessly engaging, his guitar doesn’t just play through the music; it blasts, sings, cries, listens. Album opener “Low Down” swings with the band’s foundation, allowing Dechter’s highlight notes to pierce the funky vibe just enough to make an impact. He never overdoes it, plucking and playing with nuance and poise. The complicated “Squatty Roo,” rarely played by Johnny Hodges, gives Dechter the chance to play with the formation of entire ideas. His guitar moves through the track’s difficult tempo, thrusting into open spaces with a blast of purposeful notes that give rather than take. Pay careful attention to Hendelman’s solo, too, as he matches Dechter pace for pace throughout the tune. The record’s title track, written by Dechter’s father in 1979, is a beautiful and complex piece of music. Dechter fully delivers on the piece, originally titled “Db Tune,” into a lovely, heartfelt performance. As one of jazz’s most gifted young guitarists, Graham Dechter certainly sets the bar high with Right on Time. A complex, beautiful, clever debut for any musician, this is a record with poise, style and sway. With this album proving his intelligence and curiosity for the art and his instrument, Dechter is one to watch in the jazz community.
Aaaaah yes!! A new ‘kid on the block’ for jazz guitar-philes. I speak of one Graham Dechter. In a phrase, Graham has learned his melody, his harmony, and his scales. If you don’t believe me, check out his wondrous version of the jazz guitar classic ”Broadway.” Graham plays with a beautifully contrived control of his instrument with imaginative passes of improvisation that are not commonplace… Rather, his delivery is a study in great sensitivness. In addition, Dechter maintains an admirable atmosphere of interest throughout his project that can be described as happy and spontaneous. A true craftsman, Graham is extremely effective in his delivery in somewhat of an ”Appassionata” sense in that his mood and feeling for his music is both colored well and spacious in style… infinitely varied… considerably flexible… And certainly contrapuntal in manner. Reviewed by, George W. Carrol,
Dechter is a guitarist who will bring out roughly equal amount of admiration and jealousy in most listeners. He’s fantastic…and he’s 22 years old. He is currently a member of the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and quite understandably borrows his backup musicians from that group. He’s backed up by John Clayton,Jeff Hamilton and Tamir Hendelman. (November 9, 2010)
If you like your jazz guitar without a bunch of frills, sprinkled with a healthy dollop of blues, loaded with sweet melodies and smart solos, young Mr. Dechter (a mere 23) has created a program for you. Over the past 5 years, he’s taken over the guitar chair in the Clayton-Hamilton Big Band and has logged time with violinist Regina Carter, pianist Bill Charlap, vocalists Kurt Elling and Roberta Gambarini, saxophonists Jimmy Heath, and James Moody, and fellow guitarist John Pizzarelli (a small sample of his collaborations.)  Jeff Hamilton (drums), Tamir Handelman (piano) and John Clayton (bass) offer fine accompaniment on a program of standards, an original and a tune by the guitarist’s father, Brad Dechter (educator, orchestrator, and composer.) There’s nothing out of the ordinary but the music is played with such joy and devotion to interplay and a group sound that it is easy to like what one hears.  Dechter’s tone is soft and “warm” (Clayton apropos description), amply displayed on ballads such as Cy Coleman’s “With Every Breath  I Take” and the elder Dechter’s “Right on Time (Db Tune).” You have to like the way the quartet swings the devil out of Johnny Hodges’ “Squatty Roo” and Thad Jones’ “Low Down.”  Graham Dechter’s debut disk is sweet stuff and an easy, fun, listen. Reviewed by, Richard Kamins, November 12, 2009)
LA Beat:Guitarist Phenom Graham Dechter: CD Release at Steamers

One of the best concerts I have seen in quite a while took place on October 8th at Steamers in Fullerton. Graham Dechter is one of the youngest guitarists around.  For someone in his early twenties, he has captured a lot of attention from his many musician peers and audiences alike.   Both drummer extraordinaire Jeff Hamilton and superb bassist John Clayton discovered Dechter sometime back.  He has worked in their co-led band, the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.  Clayton comments on his “warm guitar sound.”  Hamilton notes his inquisitiveness as a student and rise in a short amount of time to a “seasoned professional.” Steamers was approaching its 15th anniversary (mid October).  This was a night to be remembered. Simply having the “A-Team” of Clayton, Hamilton and Tamir Hendelman backing Dechter in this straight-ahead jazz concert was the absolute best!  The evening’s celebration was for Dechter’s first CD, Right on Time.  They played all the fine selections from this CD, plus a few extras.  The arrangements, some coproduced by Hendelman and Dechter, were particularly rhythmic and swinging. They kicked off the set with “In a Mellow Tone.” There were some nice choruses by Dechter along with jubilant solo work from Hendelman, a feisty solo by Clayton and a cooking solo from Hamilton.  Steamers was packed and the audience gave lots of applause right away.   Next was an up-tempo number, “Broadway,” from the CD. Dechter moved briskly through several choruses of this classic tune and Hendelman performed a phenomenal solo beyond belief!  Hamilton played a driving solo, capturing the audience’s appreciation.  “Wave,” a Jobim classic, was arranged by Dechter when he was 19.  With Hendelman on board, it was re-written, some by the pianist, but the rest by Dechter, and is a suave, beautiful piece that everyone truly enjoyed.  Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” was a “killer” ballad arranged by Dechter, but had some gorgeous swing in its midsection. Dechter is technically perfect in all of his musical styles and approach.  He already has a pleasing stage presence.  Jazz fans have a lot to look forward to with him!  He introduced his father, Brad Dechter, who was in the audience and who composed the title tune of Right on Time, a very nifty jazz number. Duke Ellington’s “I Ain’t Got Nothing but the Blues,” a down and dirty soulful blues, closed the first set.  The sensational Graham Dechter Quartet received a standing ovation.  Highly recommended!  Reviewed by, Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene, (November 2, 2009)
Graham Dechter Right On Time: Another jazz guitarist, but instead of being decades into his career like David Widelock, Graham Dechter is just getting started. This record is his first, and the 23-year-old plays with the authority of a guitar player twice his age. When most guys in his demographic are more concerned about raw speed, power and heavy riffs, Dechter prefers the light, bouncing swing and imagination of Montgomery. Like those prestigious forbears, he understands and uses the full harmonic range of the hollow-bodied electric to create rich, chordal phrases and clean, popping single lines. Having already spent about four years in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (the drummer, pianist and bass player come from this band), Dechter also appreciates comping as much as he does leading. And, he can conjure up one more meaningful rendition of a widely covered jazz standard or dig out a gem of a tune out of obscurity. All of these attributes are present in Right On Time, and while nothing in this set of songs threatens to introduce new ideas into jazz, that’s not the point. Simply sit back, soak in the swinging grooves and appreciate some fault-free jazz guitar with a sympathetic backing band. Reviewed by, S. Victor Aaron, (January 9, 2010)
From cheery dancehall-swing lifts to bluesy grassroots clippings, guitarist Graham Dechter presents a basket full of supper club-inspired jazz on his latest CD, Right On Time. Featuring drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist John Clayton, and pianist Tamir Hendelman on the recording, Right On Time is an ambitious endeavor that showcases the quartet’s affinity for classic jazz topiaries. Their repertoire includes numbers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave,” Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington’s “The Nearness Of You,” Duke Ellington’s “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues” and “In A Mellow Tone,” Cy Coleman’s “With Every Breath I Take,” Ray Brown’s “Lined With A Groove,” and the title track which was written by Dechter’s father, Brad Dechter. The quartet grooms their tracks to display a finery that puts their audiences in a reposing state and a gleeful mood. The ballroom swagger of “Low Down” is buoyed by the flexing and squeezing of the guitar riffs, and the bluesy gloss of Dechter’s chords through “”I Ain’t Got Nothing’ But The Blues” have a sleek, burlesque shiver foddered by the jiggling pulses of Hendelman’s piano keys. The wispy breezes straddling “Wave” have a soothing touch, which shift to a dulcet, lullaby coasting in the imagery garmenting “The Nearness Of You.” The tapping patters of the drumbeats in “Broadway” have a showtunes thematics, which balloon into a cushiony cocktail-jazz ambience through the title track. The quartet dives into swells of festive beating and hardcore swing jetties matting “Squatty Roo,” which transform into a mellow gliding along “With Every Breath I Take.” The swiveling motions and crinkling bass pulls of “Lined With A Groove” have a chill-out vibe, and drift into a tranquil rolling along “In A Mellow Tone.” Swing-inspired riffs reign supreme on Dechter’s album. His quartet shows support for one another while indulging in spontaneous jaunts which stamp the tracks with the quartet’s individual mark. The instrumentals display a group effort driven by Dechter and fastened with neatly splayed bolts. The group’s improvisations are manageable while unleashing a free spirit that entices audiences to fly with them. Reviewed by, Susan Frances, (September 21, 2009)
Dechter is one of those young phenoms who is jazz mature beyond his years. He made his mark playing with the Clayton Brothers and has quickly found his sound as a solo artist. He has chosen songs outside of the standards, like Thad Jones’s “Low Down,” and Johnny Hodges’s “Squatty Roo,” along with some more familiar melodies, including the crisp blues of “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues,” and a gorgeous version of “The Nearness of You,” which displays Dechter’s warm, hollow body sound. He even included a track written by his father, Brad Dechter, “Right On Time (D flat Tune),” a lovely light swing with a loping melody played with fluidity by Dechter. The young guitarist, who sounds a bit like a mix between Jim Hall and Russell Malone, is joined by John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums, plus Tamir Hendelman on piano, and the quartet works perfectly together, all listening and playing off each other but never getting in the way. For a debut, this is a hands-down winner – sophisticated and full of engaging swing tunes. Reviewed by, Kyle O’Brien, Jazz Scene of Oregon, (October 2009)














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