In a dozen recordings as leader over the past 20 years, Iranian born American guitarist and composer Ahmad Mansour has distinguished himself as a leading light of modern jazz guitar on the New York and European music scenes. His past outings like 1993's Penumbra, 2002's Nightlight and last year's Short Cuts garnered rave reviews from critics worldwide who praised his harmonic sophistication and dazzling single note facility.
But while his earlier records were often steeped in ECM-ish mystique and sublime lyricism, Mansour's latest -- the live Public Domain and the following Free Speech -- are bristling with an adventurous spirit of risk-taking and discovery that he had only hinted at in the past. If jazz is the sound of surprise, then this is jazz with a capital 'J'.- Bill Milkowski - Recorded live to 2-track during a 2006 European tour, this trio generates quite a bit of spark within the jazz-fusion spectrum. Guitarist Ahmad Mansour's second release for this German record label is designed with an open-air sound and mode of attack. With ace New York City modern jazz denizens, bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor providing some of the oomph and gusto, the trio generates a sequence of climactically-oriented, theme-building forays. Mansour gnaws, nibbles and blurts out razor-sharp e-guitar lines amid some jazz-tinged funk phrasings. In effect, they take a bit of time when zooming in for the kill, as they sustain interest throughout. It's not your typical plugged-in jazz fiesta where soloists seem more inclined to care more about the soloing spots, while sacrificing the group-based vibe. Wondrously recorded, this live outing resonates with sparkling attributes. Check it out on a good set of cans, and you'll hear even more detail. They generate some high-heat while Mansour soars skyward amid pumping groove-based shuffles and backbeats. But at the end of the day the leader surfaces as a ?thinking-man's guitarist.? A top-flight effort that communicates a jam-based methodology, enhanced by colorful hues and a touch of class? - Glenn Astarita, eJAZZNEWS.COM - -FREE SPEECH- Wrapping itself into a tight, swirling ball of kinetic energy, guitarist Ahmad Mansour's electric trio grooves and burns its way through a mesmerizing live set that demands to be heard straight through. Striking improvisational statements bubble up from murky depths, with Mansour's lines swinging between speedy, liquid arpeggios and a blues-rock crunch; precise exposition giving way to sudden incendiary swells. Stomu Takeishi's sinister pulse on five-string fretless bass grounds the sound, while drummer Ted Poor, all constant motion, hurls the group forward. JAZZTIMES, MARCH 2008 -Forrest Dylan Bryant-