New York City Jazz Review-Feb 2014
Shadow Box Bob DeVos (American Showplace Music)
by Elliott Simon
B3 organ trios created a bluesy and delectably greasy jazz club sub-genre best exemplified by Groove Holmes’ “Misty” and Jimmy Smith’s “Midnight Special”. For guitarist Bob DeVos and his B3 trio/quartet show on Shadow Box, however, the interplay among organ, drums, guitar and sax can remain true to the tradition while advancing the genre. DeVos understands composition and form; his arrangements are what separate this offering from the pack. He is a guitarist who, though he certainly can play the blues and bop with the best, is content to comp while organist Dan Kostelnik struts the B3’s powerful stuff.

DeVos has a nice fat tone and on five cuts adding tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen to the mix, the two push each other in non-traditional B3 directions. This is particularly true on the four DeVos compositions featuring the quartet format. While the blues certainly runs through most of these tunes, many are tricky and this complexity gives parts of the session a very contemporary modern jazz sound. Drummer Steve Johns is a delight and with three meaty frontmen, he makes the intricacies work.

Opener “After Burner”, named for organist Charles “Mighty Burner” Earland, kicks things off with a catchy riff DeVos and Bowen jointly introduce while the title track is a more sophisticated, almost angular, modern blues excursion. “Blue Print” has DeVos going all bluesy in the context of a non-blues structure and “Maine Stay” is another complex forum for slick in-tandem guitar/sax work and boundary stretching. While tunes like “Wives and Lovers”, Latin-informed “Pensativa” and Shirley Scott’s “Basie in Mind” are a nod to the past, it is the more contemporary originals that give Shadow Box its eye to the future.