Nick Colionne, Herb Walker & George Freeman

The Bop Shop’s annual December Guitar Series–a community-chest operation that grants you half-price admission if you bring a Christmas toy as a charitable contribution–lacks the pizzazz of last year’s proceedings, but you can still count on some fireworks. Nick Colionne hosts this Friday’s event; his band does triple duty by also backing Herb Walker (a longtime session man I’ve never heard) and George Freeman. On disc, Colionne has aimed his music at the WNUA audience, which means he keeps it simple and simplistic. Admittedly, he plays this stuff with a little more spirit than most of his other “smooth jazz” compatriots, but his metier is the bluesy region of pop instrumentalism that Wes Montgomery staked out in the 1960s. George Freeman is the real draw on this bill–as he is on most bills he shares. Freeman, a genuine guitar iconoclast, grew up in bebop, but his solos tap into a variety of sources that include Charlie Christian’s pioneering swing-to-bop and the medium-wild visions of Sun Ra. The schedule calls for all three guitarists to perform together, and since Freeman can single-handedly push such encounters past their normal boundaries, the evening promises at least one or two excursions into the delightfully absurd. Next Friday the series presents Ernie Denov, one of the city’s most satisfying guitarists, whether playing rock (Band of Jimis, Bad Dog) or jazz, and rarely seen studio guitarist Kraig McReary; the following Friday the series pulls out the stops with Fareed Haque, Dave Onderdonk–two of the city’s most accomplished and compatible players–and Paulinho Garcia, who displays a subtle mastery of the rhythms of his native Brazil. Friday, 10 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 773-235-3232.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Randy Tunnell.