Originally from New York, Alex Graf picked up the guitar at the age of twelve and over the following years had immersed himself studying jazz by such greats as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker. Moving to Colorado in 2017, he discovered there was also a home for him in bluegrass music, becoming influenced by such artists as Tony Rice, Clarence White, Doc Watson and others, all while still hanging onto his jazz roots.
Graf is an excellent guitarist and on this debut project he shows how these varied influences come out in his music, on both his originals and some well-known bluegrass favorites. Graf is joined on this outing by Jacob Jolliff (mandolin) and Evan Suiter (bass), both who nicely augment Graf’s arrangements. He performs his modern guitar approach to such bluegrass norms as “Back Up An Push,” “Alabama Jubilee,” and the traditional “I Am A Pilgrim.”
His own compositions include “Towpath Road,” his salute to Tony Rice, while others like “Memory Bank,” and “Rock Squirrel In A Twisted Juniper” show his contemporary bents. As for his jazz roots there is “Straight, No Chaser,” a salute to Thelonious Monk, “Rene,” for Dutch pianist Rene Van Helsdingen, and “Graduation Song,” all showing his improvisational style. One can hear the influences that have shaped Graf’s approach to the guitar on this very pleasant debut outing.