Tim Fitzgerald, Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House Review
Guitarist Tim Fitzgerald founded Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House in 2015 to lead a septet with a repertory mission to explore, perform, and record the music of Wes Montgomery. The ensemble is filled with members from the Windy City straight-ahead jazz community, a vibrant scene that tenor saxophonist Von Freeman called ‘hardcore jazz.’ The ensemble is Fitzgerald on guitar, pianist Tom Vaitsas, Grammy-nominated trumpeter Victor Garcia, George Fludas, one of the city’s greatest drummers and a veteran who has worked with Wes’s pianist/vibraphonist brother Buddy Montgomery as well as Mel Rhyne, who played organ with Wes. Filling out the septet is Chris Madsen, tenor saxophone; Brent Griffin, Jr., alto saxophone; and Christian Dillingham, bass. Together, the ensemble brings to life Fitzgerald’s genuine love of Wes through their latest album, Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House.
Each of the ten tracks buzzes and surges with fresh concepts based on the language of jazz and Montgomery’s era. Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House opens with a swinging version of “S.O.S.” The first thing any jazz fan is going to do is listen to Fitzgerald’s tone, rhythm, and phrasing when taking on the colossal task of performing Wes Montgomery tunes. Upon hearing Fitzgerald’s solo, one will be pleasantly surprised that he has a warm jazz box sound like Wes, and his ideas are fluid in rhythm and phrasing like Wes too. Fitzgerald sets the groove to the ever-hip “Four On Six.” The arrangement is fresh and plays with the time signature, adding interest and modern touches. The ensemble shines on “Jingles,” capturing Wes’ joy and playfulness throughout the performance and solid arrangement. Fitzgerald performs a beautiful solo on this one, capturing Wes’ vibe while expanding the vocabulary into more modern territory. Keeping in the blues theme, “Fried Pies” is another standout. The arrangements are built on Wes’ performances and many of his amazing figures. The shout chorus is excellently arranged and builds from Wes’ guitar solo. Overall, Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House is a very successful project of Wes Montgomery’s music. Few can take on this feat and make it feel like anything close to Montgomery’s joyous swinging style. Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House does achieve this, and that’s the short of it!
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Tim Fitzgerald's Full House
July 29, 2022