Something Else! sneak peek: Mark Elf, “A Little Diddy” from Returns 2014 (2014)

Share this:

Mark Elf, the talented but too-seldom-heard jazz guitarist, doesn’t oversell the lead track on his long-awaited Mark Elf Returns 2014. It’s simply called “A Little Diddy,” and at least at first, it seems to be just that — a crisp cool breeze to set the mood on one of these drowsy late summer afternoons.

But after a tightly constructed intro, Elf begins dissembling his own low-key rumination, stopping on a dime, then bursting forward again, and again — and again. Each return is punctuated by an increasingly energetic declamation, until finally Elf is ready to attack. His lengthy exposition at this song’s middle, witty and fleet, couldn’t be further from its initial sense of down-played expectation.

No, Elf isn’t creeping back into things. Instead, he’s made a sweeping statement with “A Little Diddy,” even for those who might have been familiar with his important contributions alongside the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Heath and Clark Terry — not to mention a series of well-received solo albums.

There followed, however, an eight-year hiatus, a period only elongated when Sandy came ashore on the East Coast, halting plans for a 2012 session — and flooding Elf’s home. “A Little Diddy” is part of a new album, performed with a smart trio of sidemen in drummer Lewis Nash, pianist David Hazeltine and bassist Peter Washington, that includes a total of seven originals and three reworked standards. More importantly, it’s a reminder of just how much we’ve missed Mark Elf.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close