Eric DiVito – Breaking The Ice (2012)

Formally trained as both a classical and jazz guitarist, DiVito has a passion for music that extends broadly beyond that (one of his gigs is leading a Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band), and is deeply into music education. All of which has left little time for leading a record date, but at thirty-one years old he finally was able to make the time, and it was time well spent.

Breaking The Ice introduces DiVito to the world outside his NYC environs and its jazz clubgoers and guitar students. Perhaps as no surprise, Ice presents a fully formed product in DiVito as a composer, bandleader and guitarist. Playing bop-based modern jazz that calls a little to mind John Scofield’s acoustic quartets, DiVito assembled Jake Saslow (saxes), Nadav Snir-Zelniker (drums) and alternately Corcoran Holt (acoustic bass) or Motohito Fukushima (electric bass) for this project.

DiVito’s decision to go with an electric bassist for four tunes and acoustic for five in a discreet way diversifies the music. Fukushima and his nimble fretwork pairs up perfectly with DiVito on the ascending, repeating chord figure of the title song. By contrast, Holt’s nimble walking bass figure on the bass on the sax-less blues “Layin’ It” does the trick, as does a pumping bass line on “Unit 7″ that moves into a progression that recalls Sam Jones’ “Unit 7.”

Saslow, whose own debut album was profiled here last year, acts as the front line foil and harmonizing partner. He continues to impress as an emerging sax voice with a warm tone and a soulful delivery, best displayed on delicate ballads like “For Maria,” but can also swing with command as on “Breaking The Ice,” and his soprano sax meshes well with DeVito on the lullaby “Her and Hymn.”

DiVito’s solo nylon-string undertaking of Bill Evans’ magnificent “Time Remembered” bottles up the soul of that song into his Segovia inspired nylon string acoustic guitar. His acumen without a pick carries over to a smokin’ fingerpicked solo featured on “Shoot The Messenger.” “Pass Time,” written with Joe Pass in mind, is a great tribute to the master, with some soft octaves that also evokes Wes Montgomery. DeVito invested a lot into his compositions as well, drawing in bop, pop, classical, Latin and other styles into rhythmically shifting tunes such as “Tango,” “Like Minded,” and “From An Old Sketch.”

A long time in the making, Eric DiVito’s Breaking The Ice makes up quickly for lost time. It leaves you hoping he’ll find the time to make another record again soon.

Breaking The Ice was released October 2 by the Pioneer Jazz Collective. Visit Eric DiVito’s website for more info.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.