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September & October 2015 Short Takes

Jim Green "True North" 2015 If you're looking for a disk of quiet, slow, soothing acoustic guitar music, look no further than Jim Green's True North. The 11 tunes on the CD have an ethereal air about them, even his covers of Don McLean's "Vincent" and "Turning" by Alex DeGrassi (played about half as slow as the original, yet infused with its own mystery). Green makes good use of simple, stark guitar parts played with an almost minimalist quality in repetition. He also adds Native american flute, harmonica, and "imaginery instruments" to good effect. "Back of Beyond" reminds me of riding home from swimming on my 10-speed when I was a kid. "Weathered" is more up tempo, and benefits from both violin and cello in the mix to add delicate and mournful meoldy lines. The opening cut, "No Regrets," gets another shot as the last track, but with different treatment that makes you move back and forth between the two to hear what he is saying in their differences. I think my favorite tune is "Cascade," with a richer, more nuanced melodic development and solid playing. Good music for a book and a cup of tea on a solitary afternoon. © Kirk Albrecht

Eberhard Klunker "Lietzensee" 2015 Lietzensee is an exquisite, breathtaking and remarkable achievement recorded and performed improvisationally in the Kirche am Lietzensee (Church on Lietzen Lake) located in Berlin. Guitar virtuoso Eberhard Klunker's genius, artistry and impeccable execution are in full bloom throughout this superb collection of original compositions and arrangements performed on his Goodall Standard Guitar. The ebb and flow of Lietzensee is exquisite, breathtaking and remarkable; akin to a fine Muscat grape that explodes with such sweet flavor. Klunker sates that, "In my music, improvisation plays a very important role. Some pieces are completely improvised without any guidelines. And others develop their form around a theme and form a spontaneous situation. Each piece is unrepeatable in its arrangement." The aptly titled "Prelude At 6" opens the CD with church bells, our first auditory clue of breadth of the sonic experience to come. What follows is a rather serious yet playful progression that gives way to the wide open energy of "Some Sambal" which truly opens our ears to the wide sonic pallet that Klunker dabbles with throughout this rambunctious, free-spirited roller coaster ride or artistic freedom and expression. Klunker blends so many styles and techniques throughout this collection from jazz, fusion, blues, gypsy to soul and much in between. Many tunes stand out, but this whole is just as great as its parts. Favorites include "13", "Stop, Stop, Go!", the cinematic "Mr. Hope" and the finale, "Nudges". It is as if Klunker has captured 12 lightning bugs in a jar and held it up for all to marvel at their luminosity. Lietzensee might be the best acoustic release of the year! © James Filkins

Jim Hurst & Roberto Dalla Vecchia "Atlantic Crossing" 2015 What a fun CD! The impeccable fingerstylist Jim Hurst teams up with friend and fellow artist from (originally) across the pond - Italy, to be exact - accomplished flatpicker Roberto Dalla Vecchia, to duet on traditional songs and original compositions. Their interplay results in an outstanding compilation, one that is far more imaginative and complex than many duet recordings where one guitarist plays melody and the other the accompanying bass or rhythm. For instance, near the end of "Monte Pasubio," each guitar plays a phrase that overlaps with the one before in a kind of round, resulting in harmonies and a lovely layering of sounds. In traditional "Golden Slippers" the musicians switch off lead and support, but also play long passages of super-fast bluegrass-style picking in unison. Virtuoso playing is especially evident on the four traditionals, while the beauty of the arrangements especially shines through on two songs with vocals. But perhaps most impressive are the four original compositions. The title track and "Walking to Vicenza," both written by Hurst, are tour de force pieces with splintery fast-picking runs and percussive rhythms, breathtaking in intensity. Those by Roberto Dalla Vecchia ("Moonlight Passage" and "Dancing Lightly,") are slower and achingly beautiful. In imagistic "Moonlight Passage" one guitar plays the melody while the other plays a repeated set of complementary notes with an echoing bass riff - in the way the notes fly off, it's meant to mimic the way dandelion seeds escape in the wind. Like the different sounds of their instruments, which contrast and yet are complementary, Atlantic Crossing shows that when two guitarists are as synergistic as Hurst and Dalla Vecchia, they can bridge any distance through their music. © CÚline Keating

Here's some other great music we received this month:

Karen Reed - True North
Cain's Regret

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