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Dan Sistos is a talented and versatile guitarist who is based in the Los Angeles area. Ventura Blvd. is his fourth CD as a leader and it features the guitarist at his best.


Sistos wrote all ten songs for this release and is in the spotlight much of the time while being joined by pianist-keyboardist Carlos Rodgarman, bassist Juan Carlos Portillo, drummer Paul Alexander Gonzalez and percussionist Pete Korpela. There are also welcome guest appearances by four horn players on one song apiece.


While the music on Ventura Blvd. is generally melodic jazz, it includes its share of mood and stylistic variations. The set begins with the swinging jazz waltz “Three Of A Kind” which introduces Dan Sistos’ attractive tone on the guitar and has a bit of Robert Kyle’s tenor playing. “Cuttin’ Heads” is an infectious funky blues that inspires some hot trumpet playing by Arturo Solar and a brief but stirring tradeoff with Sistos.


“Julianna” and “As The Leaves Fall” are two of several beautiful ballads included on Ventura Blvd. that puts the focus on the leader’s thoughtful solos on acoustic guitar. In contrast is the explosive “Changes,” an exciting performance that includes blazing solos by Sistos, trumpeter Chuck Findley and pianist Rodgarman. The soulful strut “Ventura Blvd.” is a friendly pop melody that the guitarist takes on a colorful ride.


The uptempo “Skin The Cat” has an insistent rhythm and features some rapid lines by Dan Sistos on acoustic guitar that Django Reinhardt would have enjoyed. “Coastline,” a funky tune on which Sistos hints at both Lee Ritenour and Wes Montgomery, and the laidback and introspective “In Their Eyes” conclude this highly enjoyable outing.


Ventura Blvd. will delight Dan Sistos’ fans in addition to serving as a fine introduction to the excellent guitarist.


 - Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists

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