First Light - Field Day
CD Review by Brian Blain for Jazz UK Magazine
From the artwork and gatefold packaging to the mixing at Oslo's famed Rainbow Studio by ECM's Jan Erik Konghaug, the production values here positively ooze care and attention. Guitarist Ronnie Johnson and drummer Geoff Dunn, the two main men behind First Light, have spent many years as anonymous session musicians (Johnson was Van Morrison's MD for many years), and although the band is almost 15 years old, this sounds like it's most serious bid for recognition yet.
With their pedigree it would have been so easy to just pump up the volume, but although the Metheny influence is always there, the cumulative effect of these twelve tracks is subtly European in flavour - the title track is reminiscent of John Surman in full jig mode. But First Light's influences are far more diverse. and stem from half a lifetime in popular music and jazz.
It's my opinion that Johnson is up there with all the major guitar players in this country, but if you're looking for showoff chops you won't find them here. On the evidence of this surprising CD, First Light could do with Europeans on the continent getting to hear more of them.
Details and sounds at www.firstlightmusic.net.
Brian Blain - reprinted by permission.
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