Chico Pinheiro & Anthony Wilson: Alla Chitarra

Nova is a mixture of Brazilian music and jazz. The full ensemble playing is quite good. But as is often the case, music can be best when pared down. The most rewarding cut on the album is "Alla Chitarra." The music itself is not simplified. In fact it is quite intricate. But the two main protagonists, Chico Pinheiro and Anthony Wilson, go at it without the rhythm section. They are joined by Swami Jr. who plays the Brazilian 7-string guitar. His task is to offer a textural bed for the other two players. Pinheiro and Wilson are nothing short of fantastic. The tune, written by Wilson, gives the players many opportunities to be as expressive as hell. This isn't Paco De Lucia meets John McLaughlin or Al Di Meola, but a Latin flavor permeates the jazz, and the calls and responses are reminiscent of the Guitar Trio. (Certain sections of the piece also sound very much in structure and intent like "Rene's Theme" on Larry Coryell's 1974 album Spaces.) Excepting the acoustic guitar of Swami Jr., the sound is electric. At least that is what the liner notes say. Both Pinheiro and Wilson are plugged in. From time to time you can tell this. But the sound each gets mimics the gut string in a very evocative way. The tune turns straight-ahead jazz for a spell before ending with some interesting counterpoints. Pinheiro and Wilson are simpatico. Their unison playing is especially rewarding. This is very enjoyable music performed with a knowing precision.

October 17, 2008 · 0 comments

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Jimmy Herring: New Moon

Guitarist Jimmy Herring has developed a reputation for string shredding with such bands as Aquarium Rescue Unit and Widespread Panic. He has played with the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, and in the jazz band that honored the Dead, Jazz is Dead. According to a recent interview, it appears Herring isn't all that comfortable being known mainly as a shredder. He is concerned some of his more diehard fans may be expecting such guitar fireworks from his first solo outing Lifeboat. Unless his fans are a slew of tasteless zombies, he shouldn't be worried. Lifeboat is a collection of jazz-oriented pieces that stress melodious grooves, developed themes and group cohesion. There surely is some killing guitar here, but it is not the be all and end all. "New Moon" is just one example.

Guest guitarist Derek Trucks introduces the slowly paced song on slide guitar. He has an interest in Indian music, and manages to incorporate that influence in a very bluesy way. Though using slide guitar is helpful, this is just not a simple thing to do. Herring joins Trucks to state the main theme. It is quite catchy in a Southern blues jazzy way. It devolves into a lengthy Trucks carnatic exposition. He is answered by a soulful Herring. The rhythm section of Burbridge and Sipe is perfectly restrained. Pianist Matt Slocum offers chord shadings. These guys are real tight. No fast guitar shredding here. Instead we have an evolved interaction. This is really good music. If some of Herring's fans don't get it, we'll find him some new ones.

October 17, 2008 · 0 comments

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