Launching his career after a year at Berklee College of Music touring with Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, New York born, Charlotte NC based guitarist Andre Ferreri has musically pretty much done it all. He’s worked with everyone from Sam Moore, Chuck Berry and The Coasters to Herbie Mann, Bill Evans and Bucky Pizzarelli; helmed contemporary jazz ensemble Airstream for 12 years; written for TV, films, commercials and karaoke; and launched an indie label, Laser Records to help musicians promote their music.
For Ferreri, though, nothing tops the magic and energy of trad jazz and swing – and the way composing and playing it reminds him of discovering influences like George Benson, Hank Garland, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, et al. The most indelible way to convey his enduring love for his #1 passion these days is right there in the title of his latest album Numero Uno – which he attributes to the Euro sounding Andre Ferreri Quintetto – a nod to his heritage and the playful camaraderie of the ensemble. Ferreri takes us on a dynamic emotional journey that balances up and downtempo tunes seamlessly.
A few cases in point: His opener “Mighty Fine” – the be-bop big bander he penned for “Mr. Roy,” a “real character” who he sees at many of his hometown gigs – starts with a big drum flourish and piano punches, then eases into a lively percussive swing vibe driven melodically by the exciting duality of his guitar and Ziad Rabie’s tenor sax. Although the moody, lyrical and deeply soulful mid-tempo “Seasons” was inspired by Kirk Whalum, whom Ferreri met on the 2020 Blue Note Jazz Cruise, Rabie does an impeccable job bringing out all the intended emotions and turning it into a saxophone ballad for the ages.
The meditative, slow building track’s core is where Mark Stallings’ thoughtful piano harmonies lay a lush foundation for the sparkling sax/guitar duality of Rabie and Ferreri. Other can’t miss highlights include the beautiful ode to Ferreri’s wife “Love Letter to Mary,” the bustling, playfully swinging and snappy guitar-sax driven “On the Move,” dedicated to Martino, and the title track “Numero Uno,” which begins in a gentle strum mode before building into a feisty swinger that includes numerous tempo, groove and harmonic shifts as it builds to one of Ferreri’s trademark speedy solos, followed by a rollicking low toned piano solo by pianist Mark Stallings.