Tim Berens and Dan Faehnle: Live at Sips Cafe – Reviewed by Joe Finn
I wanted to write something here about how much I’m enjoying this new CD. Tim Berens and Dan Faehnle are such terrific players and the virtuosity they display is on the very highest level. The interplay, energy and cohesion they create together is just a joy to hear. The set is full of those little miracles of counterpoint, discovery and spontaneity that can’t be rehearsed. I call them “eureka!” moments and on this album a few of them are so rich that I found myself laughing out loud when I first heard them.
The two guitars are heard intertwining their way through a very satisfying set of jazz standards, blues, bossas and ballads. There is also a great range of expression and color as the collection moves from one style to the next. This well thought out program is always interesting and fresh of course but the big thing I keep coming away with is the inescapable mood of celebration that none of the selections fails to generate.
The group is anchored by bassist Mike Sharfe. Mike creates the perfect foundation for this recording with flawless time, perfect intonation and an indelible groove. Like the best accompanists, Mike plays the supporting role with great skill: always there, but never in the way. His solos are first rate too.
The trio really shines on George Benson’s “Bossa Rocka”. Berens’ interpretation of the melody and his subsequent solo chorus are great examples of the relaxed confidence he brings to the music. I admire the aura of deft mastery that he creates; probably without knowing it and obviously without trying to.
Another of my favorite selections is “Segment” by Charlie Parker. The two guitars are featured on the head here in octaves before Faehnle launches into one of his outstanding trademark solos. Dan has extensive performance credits with the likes of Dave Frishberg, Chuck Israels, Ray Drummond, Terry Gibbs, Eric Alexander, Diana Krall, Dick Berk and Joey DeFrancesco; and it’s easy to see why. The smooth execution of the complexities of his concept are pretty amazing at times. It’s great to see this veteran of the Portland scene really carving out a niche for himself in the world of jazz.
I’m certain that anyone having read this far would love to add this great live jazz guitar recording to their collection. It compares favorably to various well known Pass/Ellis and Bruno/Alden collaborations. Congrats to Tim Berens, Dan Faehnle and Mike Sharfe on the release of this wonderful album. ……….joe
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About the Author: Lyle Robinson is the owner/creator/editor of Jazz Guitar Life, a popular web based publication focusing on the Jazz Guitar Community and related news.