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I Hear Sparks: Graham Dechter – Right on Time

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At just 23 years of age, Graham Dechter possesses a skill set on guitar that many would envy. With his debut recording, Right on Time, he proves that he’s got the right amount of moxie and restraint to carry an outfit through some truly bluesy, funky pieces.

Dechter brings along bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and pianist Tamir Hendelman, building on the natural fusion of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra of which all are members.

Right on Time serves to shed light on Dechter’s maturity as an artist. He shines as he allows his personal, passionate playing to articulate beautifully vibrant emotions and he excels adding texture and richness to his solos. He is a complete guitarist, working all the angles with equal parts control and adventurousness.

The Los Angeles native began to study music at the age of 5, taking violin lessons and composing his own orchestral pieces. The early education more than served him well, enabling him the opportunity to discover guitar at Idyllwild Arts Academy. At the age of 19, Dechter became the youngest member of the acclaimed Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra after studying at the Eastman School of Music.

There’s really no questioning Dechter’s pedigree as a musician, but what’s truly remarkable about Right on Time is how he subtly approaches the album’s more emotional moments. Endlessly engaging, his guitar doesn’t just play through the music; it blasts, sings, cries, listens.

Album opener “Low Down” swings with the band’s foundation, allowing Dechter’s highlight notes to pierce the funky vibe just enough to make an impact. He never overdoes it, plucking and playing with nuance and poise.

The complicated “Suatty Roo,” rarely played by Johnny Hodges, gives Dechter the chance to play with the formation of entire ideas. His guitar moves through the track’s difficult tempo, thrusting into open spaces with a blast of purposeful notes that give rather than take. Pay careful attention to Hendelman’s solo, too, as he matches Dechter pace for pace throughout the tune.

The record’s title track, written by Dechter’s father in 1979, is a beautiful and complex piece of music. Dechter fully delivers on the piece, originally titled “Db Tune,” into a lovely, heartfelt performance.

As one of jazz’s most gifted young guitarists, Graham Dechter certainly sets the bar high with Right on Time. A complex, beautiful, clever debut for any musician, this is a record with poise, style and sway. With this album proving his intelligence and curiosity for the art and his instrument, Dechter is one to watch in the jazz community.

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