Strong melodies and tight rhythmic interplay distinguish the guitarist Russell Malone, and the memorable music on Love Looks Good On You, glows with a charismatic halo. He knows how to put a recording together and the playlist has an involving flow, starting with a robust original by Mulgrew Miller, the swinging “Soul Leo.”
Malone reaches back to the 70s, arranging two unexpected movie themes he knew as a youngster, including an obscure music cue from Shaft called “Ellie’s Love Theme,” written by Isaac Hayes. It’s a very pretty tune played with unbridled sensitivity. As a ballad player, Malone takes his time by concentrating on single notes and melodic choruses – it gives the title track a dimension that’s simply gorgeous.
Malone has an indispensible band on board. The savory sound of pianist Rick Germanson, the nimble plucks by bassist Gerald Cannon and tight beats from drummer Willie Jones III, give this group its pulse. The bounce on Thad Jones’ “The Elder” and the resonant groove on George Coleman’s jazz standard, “Amsterdam After Dark” lets the quartet shine and tasty solos abound. A master of styles, you’ll catch a Chuck Berry lick here and a Wes Montgomery run there, Malone is foremost an original and with Love Looks Good On You, he’s back in the spotlight. (9 tracks; 52 minutes)