Review for LA Jazz Scene, Jim Santella, February 05
"The Sam Crain Trio -- With bassist Gene Haas and drummer Brian Justison, guitarist Sam Crain debuted this swinging session in 1997. The album includes 'Have You Met Miss Jones', 'Someone to Watch Over Me', 'I Love You', 'Moonlight in Vermont' and other straight-ahead favorites.
A lyrical guitarist who phrases seamlessly, Crain makes a ballad come to life. 'Darn that Dream' settles in peacefully with sonorous harmony and expressive improvised work. 'Bluesette', taken in a fast-paced waltz time, flows blissfully with tender persuasion. Crain's guitar utters its refrains with vocal-like passion and a built-in swing attitude.
Up-tempo romps, such as 'Tenor Madness', swing hard with the trio's cohesive interplay. Walking bass and ride cymbal provide a plausible foundation for the guitar's crisp and clear bebop drives. He's at his best on the album's three lone originals, pouring forth with lyrical charm and a loving caress. They're solo pieces, however, and provide a different slant on the guitarist's work. Recommended, Sam Crain's mainstream session offers a fully relaxed setting for the display of his virtuosic technique and swinging expression."
Review for Jazz Scene, by George Fendel, Portland, Oregon.
"Here is a midwest guitarist whose trio shines on a group of standards like One Note Samba, Bluesette, Have You Met Miss Jones and even Sonny Rollins' Tenor Madness. Add three originals to the mix and you have a nicely balanced album with Mr Crain in fine form."
Review for O's Place Jazz Newsletter, by Oscar Groomes, PO Box 2437, Naperville, IL 60567-2437
[ link ]
"There is nothing more soothing than the sound of a full-bodied guitar. Crain teams up with Gene Haas on bass and drummer Brian Justison for 14 tracks. Sam's warm sound reinforces this idea moving through Latin tunes like One Note Samba, jazz standards like Bluesette and burners like Tenor Madmess. The trio provides good entertainment. "
from article, "Guitar Man", The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois, Thurs, June 24, 1999, by Matthew Dietrich.
"Assured, relaxed and possessing fingers that seem to know no limit in speed or precision on the fretboard, Crain is a joy to watch and hear.."
From review in Music Seen - "An excellent introduction to one of the best jazz guitarists in central Illinois", reviewer: Job Conger[ link ]
"His latest production is an exercise in simplicity and low numbers, produced entirely in his home studio, sharing music he composed and played himself using the various instrument sounds. This is the first CD of Sam's to reach me, and I must say there is a sophistication in composition and maturity of melodies that suggest at big city production. Home Cookin' is an excellent introduction to an artist already known as one of the best jazz guitarists in central Illinois."
Review for "Jazz Guitar" CD, reviewer: Gerry L
"Cool arrangements and tasty solos. This was my first exposure to Mr. Crain. He based these tunes on standard changes familiar to most jazz listeners, but he brought something fresh and new to each one. Mr. Crain plays with a warm tone and his lines are fluid. The new melodies are fun to listen to, and I dug his improvisations on the changes. Whether you're familiar with a lot of jazz or just like to hear a melodic guitar player, I think you'll enjoy what Mr. Crain has come up with in this CD."
Review for "Oop Bop Sh' Bang" CD, reviewer: Kevin Toelle
"Creative modern jazz with deep roots in Swing, bebop, cool and Latin grooves. If creative modern jazz with deep roots in Swing, bebop, cool and Latin grooves sounds appealing then Springfield guitarist SAM CRAIN's OOP BOP SH'BANG might be right up your alley. Fluid fretman Crain wrote all the material save DC Hall's HEY BUCKO and longtime jazz and R & B saxophonist (and a member of the disc's backing trio) GG PELLETIER's driving WOKIN' THE DOG. Crain's compositions range from hard bop to ballads with lots of imaginative twists thrown in. This all -- instrumental outing demonstrates Crain's all-around versatility on guitar and the program is aided immeasurably by musical cohorts Pelleter, bassist ANDY BURTSCHI and drummer CRAIG RUSSO. Jazz lives! Kevin Toelle"
Review for "Rose of Loami " CD, reviewer: Job Conger
"This CD, recorded April 22, 2001, shows that sometimes you CAN judge an album by its cover. Nothing produced in New York or Nashville looks sharper. Technically clean as a whistle, un-rushed, unpretentious . . . Consistent among all the tunes on Rose is the complexity of the melodies and how effortlessly Sam Andy and Rich play them. All in all a positive 57 minutes and 39 seconds of competently played jazz with its share of surprises and delights . . . It's a solid set."