Album Review of
American Melodies

Written by Robert Silverstein
August 21, 2020 - 2:42pm EDT
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Florida-based nylon-string jazz-centric guitarist Nate Najar and jazz bass icon Tommy Cecil released American Melodies in 2019 and it is surely an album that jazz disciples will want to hear. For this 13-track, 65-minute album, Nate’s unamplified classical string guitar neatly teams with jazz bass ace Tommy Cecil, and together they join forces on a jazz duo album that offers fresh perspectives of timeless music composed by jazz icons such as the Gershwin brothers, Benny Golson, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, and Billy Joel among others. Their version of the Billy Joel classic "The Longest Time", from 1983, turns it timeless. The rub here is, though these may be songs out of the collective past, literally, that the casual jazz fan may not know, surely these composers represent not only the best in jazz history but also the finest in American music. In-the-know jazz buffs and music historians may have heard this music yet, the rediscovery of these lesser-known nuggets from the great American songbook is one of the best parts of hearing it. Tommy Cecil is considered an American jazz icon that Nate first regarded among his musical heroes. Speaking of Nate’s exquisitely executed nylon-string guitar work and overall musical acumen, Tommy adds, “His growth has been dramatic. He's really worked hard, and it shows. I love playing with him. He really did his homework for this record and I'm knocked out at what he played.” Cecil further explains the album’s mission, “So American Melodies has a subtext: I'm symbolically putting forward to a younger generation - personified by Nate - repertoire that I learned from my elders.” Bottom line here is that American Melodies is one of the finest albums of the past year. The copyright on the back of the CD cover may say 2019, yet American Melodies is a timeless album that would be an instant classic in 1960 or 2020.