A tech-savvy, all-instrumental progressive metal group from Los Angeles. The origins of Scale the Summit date to 2004, when guitarists Chris Letchford and Travis LeVrier met as students at the Los Angeles Musicians Institute, then came into contact with fellow scholar and drummer Pat Skeffington, before completing their lineup with bassist Jordan Eberhardt several months later. Two years of rehearsal and sonic self-discovery followed until, at the end of 2006, all of the musicians relocated to Letchford's hometown of Houston, Texas and finished sculpting their exceptionally technical brand of "adventure metal," as they like to call it, for release on a self-financed debut album, immodestly named Monument. Turns out their confidence was largely justified by the impressive amalgam of progressive exploration (think Cynic, Dream Theater, Kong)…
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were (and are) two of the main stems of jazz. Any way you look at it, just about everything that's ever happened in this music leads directly – or indirectly – back to them. Both men were born on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries, and each became established as a leader during the middle '20s. Although their paths had crossed from time to time over the years, nobody in the entertainment industry had ever managed to get Armstrong and Ellington into a recording studio to make an album together. On April 3, 1961, producer Bob Thiele achieved what should be regarded as one of his greatest accomplishments; he organized and supervised a seven-and-a-half-hour session at RCA Victor's Studio One on East 24th Street in Manhattan, using a sextet combining Duke Ellington with Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars.
This unassuming and delightful little album visits a time when jazz and blues were still directly entwined, drawing on the ghosts of guitarists like Charlie Christian, Eddie Durham, Bill Jennings, Tiny Grimes, Barney Kessel, and Kenny Burrell, guitarists who used the blues to enrich the jazz pieces they played on, a kind of ensemble contribution that is all too frequently missing on the contemporary blues scene. Duke Robillard, Jay Geils, and Gerry Beaudoin are all gifted guitar players, each with his own career, but as a trio working three-part harmony lines around each other, they bring a stately ensemble grace to the tracks on New Guitar Summit (the trio also appears under that name when they do live shows).
On this release, King comes close to equaling his past triumphs on small independent labels in the '50s and '60s. He's ditched the psuedo-hip production fodder and cut a 12-song set matching him with blues peers. His duets with Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, and Albert Collins are especially worthy, while the songs with Koko Taylor, Ruth Brown, and Irma Thomas have some good-natured banter and exchanges, as well as tasty vocals. The master gives willing pupils Joe Louis Walker and Robert Cray valuable lessons on their collaborations. There's also a medley in which King invokes the spirit of his chitlin circuit days, taking the vocal spotlight while his Orchestra roars along underneath.