Davy Mooney, Astoriano (LateSet)

Buzz has been building in the jazz world about Davy Mooney and his 7-string guitar. The New Orleans-native placed third in the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. After the storm, he moved to New York City and managed to stand out amid the mass of other talented players. Now he’s back home and a student at the elite Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where top young players study the music with masters like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Terence Blanchard. On Astoriano, Mooney proves that he’s a musician to watch, even though the record captures someone still maturing as an artist. Mooney’s self-assured playing is always fluid and smart. The most stripped down tracks, like “I Will Wait for You” and “Moon Song,” are the strongest. The give him room to focus on harmonies. On other tracks, John Ellis’ saxophone too often drowns out Mooney’s guitar. Ellis, another young player with a growing reputation, is solid but rarely surprising, and the delicate tone of Mooney’s guitar can’t stand up to the horn. Mooney’s potential is clear. The time he’ll spend studying with legends of the genre at the Monk Institute will no doubt develop his talent. When he finds his groove and the perfect setting for his guitar, everyone will know Mooney’s name.