Chicago guitarist Joel Paterson applies his mastery of vintage country and jazz styles to holiday gems | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Chicago guitarist Joel Paterson applies his mastery of vintage country and jazz styles to holiday gems



Guitarist Joel Paterson is a devoted student of American roots and early jazz guitar who pointedly ignores the lines between the once racially defined genres. Although he’s recorded only a few albums under his own name, his technical ease and versatility have made him a ubiquitous presence on the local scene, where he’s collaborated with Devil in a Woodpile, Jimmy Sutton’s Four Charms, and Cash Box Kings, and he’s done session work with national acts like JD McPherson, the Cactus Blossoms, and Pokey LaFarge, among others. Considering his broad embrace of vintage sounds, it should come as no surprise that he’s a fan of holiday music; he recently dropped Hi-Fi Christmas Guitar (Ventrella), a trio effort with regular cohorts Beau Sample (bass) and Alex Hall (drums) that surveys a slew of familiar songs with meticulous, gorgeous, and spry arrangements. The proceedings effortlessly ping-pong between Les Paul-style overdubbed counterpoint (“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”), the lyric grace of Chet Atkins (“Silver Bells”), and the sound of Don Rich in Bakersfield honky-tonk (“Jingle Bells”), but ultimately, parsing particular influences misses the point. Paterson’s real achievement is retaining a sentimental adoration for these endlessly reinvented warhorses while crafting arrangements that sidestep the ubiquity of material and delivering it all with unalloyed pleasure and crystalline musicality. For a number of tunes at the album release concert, the trio will be joined by Chicago Hammond B3 master Chris Foreman (who plays in a Patterson-led trio every Sunday at the Green Mill). Together they’ll tackle some tunes from Jimmy McGriff’s classic Christmas With McGriff. The group will also celebrate the holiday release at the Green Mill on December 1 and 2.   v

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