Pete Gitlin - Amplify (2013)

Pete Gitlin
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Musical biographies are filled with stories of artists who had to find that balance between their musical dreams, raising a family and working a “straight job.” Music sits on one side of the scale and real life sits opposite. It’s hard to keep the balance, and the scale tips to one side – usually the straight job and family side. At some point, the sheet music yellows and the instruments collect dust. The dream is deferred.

That’s not the way it worked for the artists we write about at SoulTracks who struggle mightily to maintain their musical careers all while raising families and often holding down a day job. That is also not the way it worked for jazz guitarist Pete Gitlin, who has released his second full-length CD project Amplify. Gitlin, in fact, is the rare person whose success at his day job allowed him to jettison on career and pursue music full time.

Musical biographies are filled with stories of artists who had to find that balance between their musical dreams, raising a family and working a “straight job.” Music sits on one side of the scale and real life sits opposite. It’s hard to keep the balance, and the scale tips to one side – usually the straight job and family side. At some point, the sheet music yellows and the instruments collect dust. The dream is deferred.

That’s not the way it worked for the artists we write about at SoulTracks who struggle mightily to maintain their musical careers all while raising families and often holding down a day job. That is also not the way it worked for jazz guitarist Pete Gitlin, who has released his second full-length CD project Amplify. Gitlin, in fact, is the rare person whose success at his day job allowed him to jettison on career and pursue music full time.

The Arizona resident played in rock, funk and fusion bands in his teen and 20s before real life intervened. He raised a family and took a position at a Fortune 500 company – eventually being promoted to vice-president. Having reached the pinnacle of the business world, Gitlin decided that he didn’t want the corner office. He retrieved the guitar in 2007, and devoted himself to songwriting and performing. Gitlin released his first album, Full Circle and the Great Temptation, in 2008.  He now returns with Amplify, a record that includes everything from 1970s styled acoustic pop tinged tunes to funk infused jazz numbers and in a nod to his Arizona roots: western swing.

Gitlin mixes a Caribbean tinged rhythm section with is rock influenced guitar soloing on “Reggaetown.” Gitlin is willing to share the improvising spotlight on tracks such as the instrumental ballad “If You Say So,” which features flugelhorn work of Cindy Bradley.  “Soul Connection” is a mid-tempo track that mixes contemporary R&B production techniques such as auto tune and drum programming with jazz-fusion bass licks and keyboard work that incorporates an old school Hammond B3 sound. Gitlin displays his acoustic fingering chops on the pensive “Across the Endless Ocean” – a number that is calling for some James Taylor or Jim Croce type lyricism. Bradley’s solo work on the trumpet again adds a nice touch to this throwback track.

The time that Gitlin spent raising his family and his stock portfolio served him well artistically in ways that might not be immediately apparent. He comes to the music business at the age of an industry veteran but his music often displays the energy of an idealistic up and comer. That might be enough to capture the ears of music fans that often equate the smooth or contemporary jazz genre with a lack of flaccidity and lack of creativity. Amplify is the real deal. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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