Blue Hen Records
Jim Campilongo has been showing off his angular jazz lines and non-flashy but sonically startling guitar work across ten solo albums and a career as sideman and cameo artist – including his work with Norah Jones in the side-project, The Little Willies. His latest album, Dream Dictionary, is filled with quietly revelatory playing, Campilongo driving a trio that, in some ways, can be compared to Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, though Ribot is hitting the rock notes a little harder, Campilongo’s hero is clearly – still – Bill Frisell. There’s also a touch of the Sonny Sharrock shapes and shards in Campilongo’s sound but he has this way of throttling back, of never hitting down into breakneck, always whispering and giving his guitar some shade, always taking time, making time, allowing the sinewy strains of his sound to wind around a tune.
In drummer Josh Dion and bassist Chris Morrissey he has a lithe rhythm section – allowing the ghostliness of Campilongo’s lines to linger. And for the one vocal cut here his Little Willies pal, Norah Jones, delivers a gorgeous version of the Ray Charles classic, Here I Am.
There’s a guitar duel (with Steve Cardenas) on One Mean Eye, a thoughtful reworking of Hendrix’s Manic Depression as slow-groove, lurching blues and as Campilongo sometimes uses a similar toolbox to Ribot in his work with Tom Waits there are quirky bends and twists and turns.
But the solo rendition of the title track that closes the album (a coda to the earlier version, midway through the album with rattling drums) is a tribute to the Les Paul school of country guitar.
So many ideas here – all immaculate and often ethereal. A really lovely, strange but settling album.