Joshua Breakstone – Quotes & Reviews


Joshua Breakstone – No One New

The members of The Joshua Breakstone Trio are three musicians with lots of experience in the Jazz scene. Bassist Lisle Atkinson has worked with Nina Simone, Betty Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Benny Carter and Kenny Burrell. Drummer Eliot Zigmund has worked with Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Toots Thielmans and Jim Hall. The leader of the trio Joshua Breakstone, besides his nineteen solo recordings, has worked with Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron and Kenny Washington. Joshua is a master improviser with a nice tone and inventive phrasing. Joshua first influences were Clifford Brown and Charlie Parker and one may hear a Be Bop influence on his improvisations, especially in the first piece, “Over-Done.” His solos on guitar sounds like those of a horn player with a sense of humor also on his improvisations. “Over Done” ends with a melodic bass solo followed by a wonderful exchange on guitar and drums before going back to the main theme. “For Me” the bass and drums a nice swinging groove to the bright tone and happy melodies of Joshua on guitar. “The Unknown One” is a beautiful ballad with a lovely latin, almost bossa feeling. Joshua’s melodies creates a placid, relaxing mood. “Come on Baby” is an up beat piece that brings a festive, swinging feeling to the CD with a superb bass solo by Atkinson. With a brilliant use of chords harmonization and and improvisations that always reach the right notes, “Blues Heretofore” grows slowly in intensity with yet another excellent work on bass and drums. “No One New” is another swinging track all three musicians keeping the energy all throughout the tune. “The Peacoks” is a beautiful blues wrote by Jimmy Rowles, brilliantly played, with expressive, heartfelt solos on guitar and a subtle, perfect support on bass and drums by Lisle Atkinson and Eliot Zigmund. The CD ends with a nice interpretation of Joe Henderson composition” The Kicker.” Reviewed by, Wilbert Sostre, (April 24, 2010)
Breakstone took a rawer approach to this trio disc. The recording sounds live and sparse, with just Breakstone, drumer Eliot Zigmund and bassist Lisle Atkinson playing without much studio help. It gives an immediacy to the tunes, but it also makes it lean, so we focus on Breakstone’s single note style, as on the bop of “Over-Done,” or the blues swing of “Come on Baby,” with Atkinson doing a fine picking solo, his humming audible throughout. It’s occasionally too bare, exposing too much space. But it’s also nice to hear artists willing to lay themselves bare against nothing but their instrumental prowess. The sparseness works to advantage on tunes that let the notes stretch, as on “The Peacocks,” where Breakstone lets his tones ring and space is welcome. It’s a chance for Breakstone to let his guitar do the talking. Reviewed by, 
Kyle O’Brien, Jazz Society of Oregon, (October 2009)
There’s no typo in the title. It refers to the fact that Joshua Breakstone has been a major jazz guitarist since his debut album in 1979. On this freewheeling trio date, Breakstone is joined by two other veterans, Lisle Atkinson on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. This time it’s primarily an opportunity for the guitarist to display his own compositions. Five of the eight tunes here are his creations. However, Breakstone likes to write original compositions built on the changes to other songs. The opener, “Over-Done,” does not refer to burning the toast, but to the fact that Breakstone knew when he got this one down and made that notation. See if you can hear Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bebop” in its scintillating lines. The next tune, “For Me” is a cousin of Gershwin’s “But Not for Me,” and the title tune, is related to “It’s You or No One.” I don’t recall ever hearing a guitar treatment of Jimmy Rowles’ exquisite “The Peacocks,” but if ever a guitarist was meant to play it, that would be Breakstone. The CD ends on a swift, hard bop note with Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker.” All these and others add up to a fresh new CD by a guitar cat totally dedicated to consistently pure, swinging, gimmick-free jazz. Reviewed by, George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon, (October 2009).
No One New is a reference to guitarist Joshua Breakstone’s long career. Over the last 30 years he has etched an impressive record as a leader with 19 recordings to his credit. It is easy to see why he has been around for so long; his music rises above the mundane with a compact sense for the lyrical that draws out the aura of a composition. His writing is facile and melodic, and opens the door to his technique. He plays with a clean, articulate style that emphasizes rounded notes, neat forward phrases and succulent chords. More, he lets the music breathe through his judicious use of space. Breakstone has used a trio setting on other recordings. It adds to the intimacy, particularly when he has empathic cohorts in bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Eliot Zigmund. The music is straight-ahead jazz, manifested in several streams that flow into bop, swing, ballads and the blues. Breakstone contributes five compositions, Atkinson pitches in one, with two standards rounding out the program. Breakstone has a way of flattening a note and then plucking it. He rides this into high gear on “Over-Done” before exhibiting the depths of his armory with single note runs, chords that enhance the harmonic depth, and changes in tension as he swings along with Atkinson and Zigmund. He shows a sense of humor investing a verse of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” along the way. “No One New” is a hard bop tune, with Breakstone extolling the melody, and letting his improvisations find their grain. Zigmund and Atkinson are strands in the weave, as the drummer engages in two fertile and vivid conversations with Breakstone. Atkinson compose the scintillating “Come On Baby,” where melody and swing clasp each other through juicy guitar notes. The bassist adds his own dollop of sweetness to this top-class tune, and Zigmund expands the equation with his crisp pulse. Breakstone closes this delightfully delectable CD with two standards that stand in contrast. “The Peacocks” is reflective, basking in the single notes that Breakstone let fall with grace. “The Kicker” gets the blues wallowing in modulated swing as Breakstone turns on the charm marrying linear devolution and chunky chords. Reviewed by, Jerry D’Souza, (September 13, 2009)
The trio is a tried-and-true format for jazz. Every now and then, the form is tweaked a little—instead of piano/organ plus bass and drums, it’s guitar, bass and drums. The Joshua Breakstone Trio is part of this sect, and delivers with No One New. The title refers to the leader, who has been a front man for about 30 years. He counts among his influences Lee Morgan, Charlie Parker, and Clifford Brown. Experiences seeing such performers as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa led Breakstone to the guitar. He is joined on this date by bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Eliot Zigmund. “Over-Done” is anything but. This high-energy track engages from the first notes. While Breakstone carries the lead, Atkinson and Zigmund are in the moment as well. During one phrase, Breakstone cleverly quotes “Mary Had a Little Lamb” before continuing his freestyle play. Zigmund mixes in some snare rolls, but part of what makes his play interesting is the varying textures of his snare strikes. Atkinson contributes a solo. “Come on Baby” is an easygoing piece. The trio playfully expresses the mood of a suitor trying to encourage a love interest to go along. Atkinson, who wrote the piece, makes the bass sing during an early solo, working in some rumbling, notes-per-beat phrases. Breakstone then turns on the charm in this melodic attempt to woo. Zigmund is emphatic during a call and response with Breakstone. With the title, Breakstone is basically saying he’s been around. So it’s no surprise that No One New is straight jazz with no chaser. All eight tracks—six originals—are upwards of six minutes, giving the trio plenty of room to express, and they do. Reviewed by, Woodrow Wilkins, (October 5, 2009)
Joshua Breakstone’s fifth recording for the Capri label, and 19th as a leader over 30 years, keeps on the straight-ahead path that has held the fine jazz guitarist in good stead. With exceptional assistance from veteran experts like bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Eliot Zigmund, Breakstone is in good company, playing two standards and six originals, all reflective of the good fortune he has enjoyed in the pocket of the modern mainstream. These titles less than subtly suggest that he’s languished in obscurity while also being able to do his own thing, with few if any commercial considerations. He’s also further refined an approach to the guitar that any fan of his instrument can easily enjoy, especially if you like the single-line string theory approach to making melodies, as established by Kenny Burrell. Breakstone is an expert extracting tiny notes out of his six-string, as heard on the lithe composition “Over-Done” (which should not be read as “Overdone” — the hyphen perfectly divides the thoughts), molded in the image of Burrell’s patience and virtue. Distinct themes of older tunes are hinted at here and there: the effortless, soulful self-portrait “For Me” uses a phrase from “One Mint Julep”; Atkinson’s “Come on Baby” is a parallel to the Sonny Rollins evergreen “Doxy”; “Blues Heretofore” borrows from Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Gentle Rain”; and the bopper “No One New” is based on the changes of “It’s You or No One,” but also sounds a bit like “Secret Love.” Throughout the program, the trio members prove their seasoning and veteran leadership, resulting in a musicality that is second to none. A cover of the famed Jimmy Rowles ballad “The Peacocks” is a sad song made more melancholy by these three. A comedic typo calls this a “hunting” song when it should be “haunting.” The closer is “The Kicker,” a Joe Henderson-penned standard done with quick stop-start accents via Zigmund’s precise drumming — a great interpretation. Through his substantial career, Joshua Breakstone has made many such solid but unspectacular recordings with very little fanfare or overt pyrotechnics to pump them up to an image-conscious public. While he always needs a little more press, this crafted and thoughtful music stands up well on its own without the hype or bursting accolades. Perhaps the listener will also pursue investigating his entire, consistently rendered discography, or get to a live performance of this humble and well-heeled — nay, underappreciated — jazz guitar master. Reviewed by, Michael G. Nastos, (2009)
In the midst of hearing this quintessentially traditional guitar jazz, the title of the CD grows doubly ironic. As scholarly as his liner notes but never merely academic,  Joshua Breakstone smoothly executes with his adept trio (including drummer Eliot Zigmund who once accompanied the late Bill Evans), and while the fluidity of his playing can’t help but recall the work and sound of icons of the instrument (Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell et. al), his vibrant tone, sure rhythmic sense and great wit distinguish him. Most of the material is original(including one from bassist Lisle Atkinson), while the presence of songs by Joe Henderson and Jimmy Rowles further reaffirm Breakstone’s melodic sense: those tunes are of a piece with the new songs just like Breakstone’s playing fits in with the history of jazz guitar. Reviewed by, Doug Collette, (October 16, 2009)
No One New – The Joshua Breakstone Trio (Capri Records) – This may be the most “conventional” sounding of the CDs in this review but that does not mean it’s boring.  Guitarist Breakstone has been “on the scene” for 3 decades (hence the self-deprecating title) and he’s really quite a fine musician.  His solo work is uniformly excellent, with flashes of humor (sprinkling “quotes” throughout his choruses), quite lyrical yet swinging. His sound is amplified yet clean, with crisp single-note lines with few effects. At the time of this recording (Jan 09), his bandmates – bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Eliot Zigmund – had been working with him for a little over 1 year but they sound so tight.  There’s great swing in the opening “Over-Done” with the rhythm section really pushing the guitarist.  And he flies through his boppish solo.  Zigmund, who has worked with Bill Evans, Lee Konitz and Jim Hall (to name but 3) is intuitively sympathetic.  He knows just when to push and can realy stretch the beat.  Atkinson contributes the sweet blues “Come On Baby”, delivering a knock-out solo that’s melodic and pithy before “walking” his lines for Breakstone’s break. Here again, the drummer just doesn’t lay back – he pushes the beat, swings sweetly, and gives the song a jaunty feel. Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacock” has been recorded by hundreds of musicians, understandable because of its lyrical melody line. This version is a winner. The bass lines beneath the guitar solo are quite full and melodic while the drums are whisper-soft.  This is the kind of ballad that can hush a crowd as it casts its spell. The music and concept on No One New sounds and feels familiar yet is comfortable and satisfying. There is not a boring cut or solo to be found in the 57-minute plus program. The main reason this CD is so good is that these musicians, while playing a style of creative music that’s been around a good long time, avoid cliches and really stretch out. Reviewed by, Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant, (September 30, 2009)
Joshua’s works have been reviewed here before, most notably in issue #65 1/2… this 5th release shows why he’s considered one of the best jazz guitarists on the scene today!  He’s joined by Lisle Atkinson on bass & Eliot Zigmund’s drums & the trio cooks on all 8 tracks… of course, it’s the original pieces that always keep my ears open… when you listen to the volcanic opener, “Over-Done”, you’ll know immediately why I dig his style so much!  Each player has a “voice” in the action, but leaves plenty of room for Joshua’s searing leads… talk about energy – this is (nearly) 8 minutes of high-steppin’ joy, boys!  If it’s a more bluesy vein you’re diggin’ for, though, you’ll fall in love (as I did) with “Blues Heretofore” right after the opening line… I mean, if you can’t lay back & enjoy this one, you’re a basket case already… in fact, listening back through all the cuts, I find that this is my favorite on the CD – smooth, yet full of life and energy.  His cover of Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker” closes out the album with just the right amount of swingin’ energy to make you keep comin’ back for more – & more & more & more, no doubt in my mind.  It’s a most interesting trio (for this reviewer, anyway) because it hearkens back to days when jazz was gentle, but Breakstone & crew spice it up with an energy that’s clearly forward-looking, & not leaning on any kudos for past performance.  If you dig straight-ahead jazz guitar with high talent that will make for hours & hours of repeated listening pleasure, you’ll agree with my rating of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.82!  Reviewed by, Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation, Issue #96. (2009)



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