March 2008

Laverne Christie Trio - East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Quiescent 837101401364
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Though Laverne Christie is probably not well known outside Las Vegas, where she is employed by Caesars Palace, this CD should go a long way toward rectifying that oversight. For her recording debut, Ms Christie decided to go with the tried-and-true jazz trio -- albeit one with her hollow-body Gibson electric guitar as lead voice instead of the usual piano. Her companions here are jazz newcomer Mark Ruben on bass and veteran Mike Candito on drums. The trio demonstrates that they have the chops to capture and hold attention; the material chosen goes a long way toward achieving this goal. Beside the standard Tin Pan Alley songs that all jazz musicians play at one time or another, there is a good number of tunes by jazz legends. Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock, and Benny Goodman are all represented. Christie’s guitar offers a comfortable yet different voice to express this familiar music.

The sound Quiescent has achieved is full, rich and detailed. Christie’s guitar is center front and offers a nice balance between plucked string and body. Ruben’s bass is deep, firm and tight. Candito’s drums snap and his cymbals shimmer. The only fly in the ointment is that the three musicians are grouped solely between the speakers, thereby ensuring a crowded soundstage. Such sound is more in line with what you’d hear at a jazz club, so it is more a characteristic than a bona fide flaw.