Homespun: Teddy Presberg

Outcries From a Sea of Red
(Outright Music)

Mar 3, 2010 at 4:00 am

Guitarist Teddy Presberg has become a mainstay at lounges and clubs around town, performing regularly with his troupe at Delmar Lounge and other haunts. On his second album, Outcries From a Sea of Red, the instrumentalist takes his jazz-guitar style and applies it to a host of genres, from smooth funk to slide blues to ambient synthesizer experimentation. Stylistically, Presberg's sound is tricky to pin down: He's too loose for straight jazz and a bit too much of a formalist to be considered a jam-band icon. But coloring outside the lines works for him and his bandmates. After the Meters-like strut of the album-opening "$4/gal," the minimal drum-machine beats and detuned synth modulations of the brief interlude "Politics" give a clear sign that this record won't rely solely on in-the-pocket funk.

Presberg borrows from some of the best jazz and soul guitarists, overlaying his influences on top of one another and throwing in his own verve. On a song such as the slinky "Delmar Blues," he uses the deep, slightly muddy chorus effect favored by John Scofield but employs it to lay down cool, fluid lines that rarely get muddled. However, he proves to be an adept bandleader, too, and leaves space for his sidemen to bloom. "Bella's Boogaloo" finds Presberg's guitar echoing the main horn line before letting the sax player have his say. Even though he dips in and out of the jazz-guitar tradition on Outcries, Presberg follows the model of Wes Montgomery and other forebears by using his guitar to carry a tune, not show off his fleet-fingered dexterity. His solos, like on the simmering organ-fed "Timebomb," show equal parts restraint and technique. The album is a genre-hop, and Presberg seems more interested in producing a varied C.V. than a front-to-back album, but Outcries suggests that he has no shortage of avenues from which to choose.

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