Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Neil Watson, Studies in Tubular

Cover art for Studies in Tubular, the new record from jazz guitarist Neil Watson
Cover art for Studies in Tubular, the new record from jazz guitarist Neil Watson

Local jazz guitarist Neil Watson has been around the traps a while now.

Over the past 20 years he's played with jazz stars and pop stars, toured with everyone from Tim Finn to Tami Nielson and opened shows for guitar greats like George Benson.

Which is a long way of saying he's got some chops. Over the course of his new record he showcases them fully.

Opening track Metres Ahead is a dirty 70s street-funk number straight off the corner, Kerala is pleasant summery folk while D.A.E 101 is straight up, head-nodding roadhouse blues.

Not only does Sweet Corn and Melon have a great title, it also has a solid swampy groove and a fantastic solo.

But don't think Watson ignores his jazz pedigree entirely. Five Bye Blues is a sophisticated run through some smooth afternoon jazz, while the horn work on Proliferation takes you straight to New Orleans.

But the highlight of the record has to be Booga-Gee, a down and dirty extended funk-jazz odyssey which gives his band a chance to really strut their stuff.

Studies in Tubular is an instrumental album that covers a lot of ground and, despite the title, there isn't an ominous sounding bell to be found.

Watson's background may be in jazz and his band made up of crack local jazz musos, but this is far from being a straight jazz album. Its successful blending of styles and sounds make it much more interesting than that.

Studies in Tubular
(Independent / Southbound)
Verdict: Jazz hero gets down and dirty with a funky bluesy record

- NZ Herald

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