Swedish jazz guitarist Andreas Öberg has been quoted as saying that one of his desires is to "make music that can appeal to people who don't like jazz." Many hardcore jazz musicians become nervous and apprehensive when they hear other improvisers talking about commercializing jazz in some fashion or making jazz more accessible to rock, pop or R&B fans; they think of all the robotic elevator music that smooth jazz/NAC radio stations have played in the '80s, '90s and 21st century. But My Favorite Guitars
is an album that, despite its commercial appeal, isn't going to win over the Kenny G.
crowd. Öberg isn't trying to be the Dave Koz
of the guitar -- far from it. Actually, the best stylistic comparison on this 64-minute CD -- which finds Öberg paying tribute to other guitarists -- would be the pre-Breezin'
CTI albums that Creed Taylor produced for George Benson (one of Öberg's main influences) in the late '60s and early '70s. At times, Taylor was guilty of overproducing, but when he achieved the right balance of jazz and commercial considerations, he soared as a producer -- and My Favorite Guitars
achieves that type of balance. This 2008 release isn't in a class with Benson's best CTI releases, but it's definitely respectable. Although Öberg brings a strong sense of groove to the table, he has plenty of room to stretch out and improvise whether he is paying tribute to Benson on "The Changing World," Django Reinhardt
on "Troublant Bolero," Pat Metheny
on "Here to Stay," or Wes Montgomery
(another major influence) on "The Trick Bag." My Favorite Guitars
won't appeal to jazz purists or bop snobs, but it has integrity and demonstrates that an improviser can reach out to pop and R&B fans and still maintain an improvisatory, jazz-oriented focus. [Resonance issued a bonus DVD edition in 2008 as well.]