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(Inside Out Music)

Continuing to echo his relevancy as the leading progressive rock guitar player on planet Earth, Steve Howe returns in 2005 with a sound similar to his 2003 album Remedy. Featuring sons Dylan Howe (drums) and Virgil Howe (keyboards), Spectrum also spotlights key contributions from bass ace Tony Levin and Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver Wakeman (keyboards). Veering from prog-rock to sharp jazz and even some Latin-flavored things, Spectrum lives up to its title. Howe explains, “I have tried to capture to the greatest extent possible, different styles from around me and bring them into a format which fits with my guitar instrumentals.” After a few Spectrum spins it’s clear Howe still has a unique ability to combine different sounds—from fusion to blues and even bluegrass—and that spirit is fueled by his unparalleled skills as a composer and arranger. Add it up and you come away with an album that reveals greater detail with each spin. Another 2005 Howe release worth checking out is his new DVD, Steve Howe’s Remedy Live, coming in 2005 on Classic Pictures.
A night of classic guitar on Long Island - a concert review...
Steve Howe kicked off the 2005 20th Century Guitar Classic American Guitar Show with a live performance on May 20, 2005 in at the Patchogue Theater out in the middle of Long Island. The stately theater was built in 1923 and for a 900 seat capacity, the vintage sounding acoustics were in fine form that night. Howe's first half of the show blended a mesmerizing mix of various acoustic solo instrumental originals with highlights including a regal instrumental cover of the Yes classic "To Be Over", a classic adaptation of a legendary tune from Howe’s 1975 solo album called “Diary Of A Man Who Vanished” and a Howe cover of the '60s chestnut "Classical Gas." Throughout, the set defined and defied the essence of progressive, rock, ragtime and classical rolled into a solo guitar synthesis that only Howe can achieve. Following a bathroom break, the last third of the show featured Steve on his electric ES175 guitar with fine backing from the 20th Century Guitar band featuring TCG's own Larry Acunto on bass and Jimmy Acunto on drums, Ray Matuza on rhythm and lead and an unknown yet quite competant keyboardist named Kathleen O'Sullivan. Together, they pulled off an amazing instrumental versions of the Yes arrangement of "America" and a rockin’ bluesy instro while for closers, Steve and the band blasted through "Roundabout". Memorable to say the least, let’s hope they return same time next year! /



On A Jordan River's Side
(K&G Productions)

A great CD of Middle Eastern flavored instrumental jazz-rock, the latest album from electric guitarist Kamal Musallam finds the Lebanon / Jordan based musician backed up by fine players like Ernest Saca (bass) and Haitham Nasser (drums). The 13 track CD is brimming with all kinds of exotic musical sounds, but what stands out most besides the excellent recording quality is Musallam’s impeccable guitar and arranging skills. Describing his unique approach to Arabic and Oriental jazz, Musallam adds, “I’m searching to reach a cross between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean with a jazzy touch.” Several points of reference may include some of the most exotic strains of music recorded by guitar giants like Santana and McLaughlin, with a touch of Euro-style surf music. There’s also quite a unique atmosphere of originality and excitement in the swinging, jazzy guitar grooves of Musallam’s musical approach.



The Session Man
(Broom House)

One of the greatest drummers to come out of England, Bobby Graham is feted on a 20 track CD fittingly called The Session Man by The Bobby Graham Band. Back in the ‘60s Graham lent his talents on recording sessions with a host of artists including Them, Tom Jones, Petula Clark and The Kinks. He played drums on the recording session of “You Really Got Me”, which is done swing jazz style on one of the rare vocals on Graham’s predominantly instrumental set. Some great players surround Graham’s big beat including guitarists Alan Warner, John Skelton, John Clare, bassist Jim Rodford and a number of U.K. musicians. Fittingly , the CD kicks off with the excellent “Tannhausers Mighty Guitar”, complete with it’s symphonic mid ‘70s Shadows-esque instrumental guitar sound. The CD and accompanying book—a 160 page book available from Broom House Publishing and Graham’s web site—entitled The Session Man: The Story of “Bobby Graham” The UKs Greatest Session Drummer, is a fab way to find out about a certified ‘60s music hero. /


Share The Sand

Just the cover art alone of latest CD from Canada’s instro rockers Vegas Beach could stop a train. But don’t let that fool you. There’s some great guitar rock on Share The Sand, and overall, the 12 track 2005 CD is a fine follow up to their first CD, Dark Side Of The Beach. Self-proclaimed pioneers of the Surf Noir movement, the instro trio—featuring the sizzling electric guitar of Ricky Las Vegas—serve up a stellar mix of classic surf sounds, Goth, old school New Orleans jazz, Southern swamp blues, a hint of country and a healthy dose of camp. Like the liner notes say, ‘best served after midnight, with a shot or three of bourbon,’ indeed.


(Tropic / Telarc)

Guitar great Ernest Ranglin has been part of the Jamaican music scene for the past four decades and he struts his stuff on his 2005 CD Surfin’. If the island of Jamaica had a surf music scene, Ranglin would surely be at the forefront. Instead of a West Coast sound, Ranglin mixes his fondness of classic American surf music—like the music from the film The Endless Summer—with an intrinsic flair for reggae, ska and Jamaican jazz. The end result makes Surfin’ a wild hybrid of guitar instrumental genres spiked with Ranglin’s tropical jazz approach. Recorded at the Tuff Gong studios in Kingston, 69 minute, sixteen track Surfin’ features Ranglin’s guitar front and center alongside fine players including rhythm guitarists Bo Pee Bowen, Steve Golding and Eugene Grey along with a number of players. The colorful CD art of Surfin’ is a good indication of the vivid sounds inside.



One of the most in demand session guitarists in Nashville, guitarist Rich Eckhardt released his first solo CD 2005. Featuring Eckhardt backed up by a number of players, Soundcheck spans eleven tracks encompassing a wide range of instrumental guitar moods including country, rock and jazz. Highlights include the Jeff Beck inspired kick-ass opening track “Soundcheck”, the fiery Santana flavored groove of “Tronar Los Dedos”, the sonic guitar panorama of “I Was There” and Eckhardt’s melancholy cover of “Sleepwalk.” Currently touring and recording with country music superstar Toby Keith, Eckhardt has performed in nearly every major concert venue in the world and has played on multi-platinum and Grammy winning albums. On Soundcheck, Rich Eckhardt finally gets to cut loose and showcase his guitar abilities and overall talents as a fine solo artist in his own right.

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed in and 20th Century Guitar. Send to P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by Send to: CD Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249