Neil Haverstick: Birdwalk
Neil Haverstick (guitar)
Way Down by the Mississippi … a Blues Guitar Tribute (Haverstick)
Neil Haverstick (guitar),
Mary Stribling (electric bass), Ernie Crews (drums).
Composed by Neil Haverstick.
Recorded: Denver, CO, January-February 2008
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Colorado-based guitarist/instructor Haverstick is a longtime proponent of a microtonal tuning system that takes the usual 12 equal tones per octave of Western music up to as many as 19, 31, 34 and 36 equal tones through the use of additional frets and/or his highly developed technique. On this CD, Haverstick pays tribute to such guitarists as Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix and even Joe Pass, with his conventionally tuned 12-tone playing bringing out the best of their stylistic identities as well as his own. However, he also plays two blues in "19-tone equal temperament," and one of them, "Birdwalk," is quite simply a tour de force by this immensely talented guitarist.
Haverstick's unaccompanied intro to "Birdwalk" starts out like something by the Ventures, although with a slightly fractured meter due to the alternate tuning. Soon a Sonny Sharrock-like dissonance and intensity enters the mix. Stribling's rock-hard bass and Crews' kick-ass drums now introduce the foundation for Haverstick's riveting solo, which summons the phrase "sheets of sound," sometimes used to describe John Coltrane's playing. This is certainly not some kind of dry, theoretical exercise, but rather a serving of highly entertaining and definitely rousing blues-rock guitar. In 2007, Guitar Player magazine named Haverstick among "101 Forgotten Greats and Unsung Heroes." Based on this track and CD, he deserves wider exposure and recognition.
Reviewer: Scott Albin