Ron Affif: Bohemia After Dark

Track

Bohemia After Dark

Artist

Ron Affif (guitar)

CD

52nd Street (Pablo 2310-958-2)

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Musicians:

Ron Affif (guitar), Essiet Okun Essiet (bass), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums).

Composed by Oscar Pettiford

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Recorded: Berkeley, CA, Oct. 10-12, 1995

Affif

Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Ron Affif's father, Charlie, was once the 8th ranked middleweight boxer in the world, and was also a friend of Miles Davis. "He threw his best shots from round one, and he's in me," said Affif of his late father. Ron's aggressive attack and hard-edged tone on "Bohemia After Dark" are evidence of that. Here's a guitarist who can hit you with the musical equivalents of toying jabs, left crosses, roundhouse rights, devastating uppercuts, and various effective combinations.

Amazingly, this smoking version of "Bohemia After Dark" was not only a first take, but also the first time Affif, Essiet, or Watts had ever played the tricky Oscar Pettiford composition (named for the Café Bohemia, where Pettiford was once musical director). Essiet establishes the insinuating beat, while Affif plays the theme with a stabbing, percussive mindset, which also applies to his subsequent solo. Affif's phrasing exhibits glimmers of other guitarists such as Joe Pass, George Benson, Pat Martino, and Kenny Burrell, all assimilated into his bluesy, concentrated articulation, rhythmic complexity, overall creativity, and admirable lack of repetition. Essiet's solo is an ecstatic extension of the driving, layered African-influenced bass lines he employs backing Affif, especially notable on the tune's unorthodox bridge. Affif's zestful trades with Watts take on an exotic flavor, and to some extent recall the combination of guitarist Gabor Szabo and drummer Chico Hamilton. This is one of the better, and certainly one of the freshest versions of "Bohemia After Dark." Which begs the question: why hasn't Affif been given an opportunity to record since 1999?

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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