Album Review: First & Monroe by Bob Shimizu

Bob Shimizu
First & Monroe
Signal Strength Records

Evening jazz is intangible to define but easy to sense and guitarist Bob Shimizu is a maestro in its field. His new CD, First & Monroe is fraught with nocturnal soundscapes and relaxing atmospherics that set the tracks on a course through pacifying destinations. Conjuring up images of cruising along seaside resorts like in “Trace of a Nordic Blonde” or a romantic drive through city streets like in “Padrone” facilitated by the sensual flares of “Eric Marienthal’s saxophone and the languid stroll in Joey DeFrancesco’s organ. The songs are exquisitely polished and carry listeners on another plane of sheer beauty.

The soft samba rhythm of “Above the Clouds” is clad in elegant chords from Shimizu’s smooth fretwork and the moonlit textures of Marienthal’s sax. The funky grooves of “Yavapai Lullaby” are draped in bluesy toned guitar riffs molded by David Garfield’s sprightly keys and the slinky rapping of drummer Todd Chuba. The twinkling trills in the keys laced along “Flying Home” expressively swag the track in a radiant décor, while the light bounce in Shimizu’s riffs sowed along “L-Ski” imbue the tune with a nocturnal ambience and move into a caressive fretting along “Sycamore Canyon” before closing the album with the bluesy tendrils of the title track reminiscent of the jazz music that fills clubs at night.

Produced by Clarke Rigsby and Todd Chuba, First & Monroe is a cool ride through elegant locales soaking up refined atmospherics and pacifying acoustics. It is nocturnal music pearlized with an evening jazz luster that awakens the aural senses to beauty.


Bob Shimizu on guitars, David Garfield on keyboards, Bill Moio on backing guitars, Todd Chuba on drums, Mario Mendivil on electric bass, Mike King on acoustic bass, Joey DeFrancesco on organ, Lenny Castro on percussion, Eric Marienthal on soprano and alto saxophones, Dominick Farinnaci on flugelhorn, Matt Williams on vibes, and Lamar Gaines on synths


Her Gentle Touch in Moonlight, Easy To Be With, Trace of a Nordic Blonde, Padrone, Above the Clouds, Yavapai Lullaby, Flying Home, L-Ski, 1235 Moio Way, Sycamore Canyon, First & Monroe

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