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APRIL 2004








Sapphire Blue

He rose to fame playing guitar with Steely Dan and went on to work with music legends as diverse as Chet Atkins and Joni Mitchell. In 2004, esteemed guitar ace Larry Carlton releases his solo debut for Bluebird Records. Featuring the rousing horn arrangements of the illustrious Jim Horn, Sapphire Blue finds Carlton backed up by a range of top players including Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynan (B-3 organ), Terry McMillan (harmonica) and Billy Kilson. A blues-based album featuring eight Carlton originals, the CD finds the guitarist stretching out on an all instrumental set that combines the finest elements of guitar-based swing jazz with melodic bluesy inventiveness. The album also shines a light on Carlton’s appreciation for enduring blues guitar giants like B.B. King. According to Carlton, “The simplicity and the harmonic limitations of the blues are a real plus because they make it easier for emotion to take over as you play.” Recorded in Nashville in 2003, Sapphire Blue is a long overdue blues statement from a guitarist who grew up listening to Pass, Kessel and Montgomery as well as B.B. King and Ray Charles. While his instrumental blues album may be a long time coming, Larry Carlton’s been playing the blues to live crowds for years adding, “It doesn’t matter what they’ve come to hear. When I play the blues, that’s when I most passionately connect with them and my guitar.”



The Surrealist Table
(Arthur Circle)

A veritable Picasso of the jazz guitar world, NYC-based guitarist Ken Hatfield released his fifth solo album as a leader in February of 2004. Supported by the keen rhythm section of Jeff Hirshfield (drums) and Hans Glawischnig (bass), Hatfield’s unique approach to playing jazz on the nylon string guitar tastefully breathes new life into a range of exalted guitar influences, achieving some sublime and highly listenable results. Influenced early on in his career by fretboard legends such as Charlie Byrd, Wes Montgomery and Ralph Towner, Hatfield grew up with a love of the blues and—combining a flair for jazz, Brazilian bossa nova rhythms and even ragtime—he comes full circle on The Surrealist Table. In the spirit of the guitar greats who influenced him, you could continually listen to Hatfield play and come away with fresh impressions over and again. Hatffield’s worked with many jazz greats over the years—including Charlie Byrd, drummer Chico Hamilton and B-3 masters Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff, and that depth of experience and ardent commitment to bring the guitar into the now, makes The Surrealist Table an album to devour deeply.




A noteworthy acoustic guitar album guaranteed to lower your stress levels, Watercolors is a fine introduction to New York-based guitarist Richard Robinson. The ten track 2003 CD provides some appealing musical scenery and in some respects recalls some of Pat Metheny’s noble acoustic moments. In his own words, Robinson adds, “I would describe the CD as musical impressionism. Each piece was written on site at a particular body of water.” Robinson—recording direct to DAT, often in one take—makes excellent use of his Yamaha LL-5 acoustic. Citing a number of guitar influences—including Eric Clapton, Kenny Burrell, Steve Howe, Larry Carlton, Mike Bloomfield, B.B. King, Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino—Robinson steps into the spotlight with his excellent Watercolors CD.


Back To The Roots

Although Magic Records is quite well known for their ‘60s reissues, they’ve also released a new for 2003 CD, entitled Back To The Roots, from Swedish instrumental pioneers The Spotnicks. Often referred to as Sweden’s version of The Shadows, The Spotnicks recorded numerous albums for Swedish Polydor back in the ‘60s, many of which have already been reissued on CD by Magic in the past few years. Still featuring original Spotnicks guitarists Bo Winberg (lead) and Bob Lander (rhythm guitar), the five piece band romp their way through 28 rocking guitar instro tracks, including favorites like “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, “Sleepwalk”, “Moonshot”, “In The Mood” and lots more. Extra points for the cool cover art of The Spotnicks taken in 2002 at Piccadilly Circus in London—which was taken precisely the same spot where, 40 years ago the group posed for their 1962 debut album Out A Space / The Spotnicks In London.



A master of the seven string bass, electric upright and Chapman stick, California-based Edo released his self-titled CD debut in 2003. Edo's ten track CD features highly original, lushly recorded, sonic instrumental simply doesn’t get much better than this. Supported by a talented crew, including guitarist/producer Drew Youngs, drummer Paul Van Wageningen, and a number of fine players, Edo’s album achieves a perfect musical ambience that’s equally reminiscent of the ECM sound, the pastoral ambience of French impressionist Erik Satie and the cool groove of ‘60s West Coast lounge jazz. Edo turns in a fine performance on his excellent sounding Conklin Guitars and AccuGroove Bass Cabinets. A scenic soundtrack for your next long drive, Edo’s beguiling music will massage your mind.



Described as ‘a thumbprint of instrumental singings from the guitar’, Thumbsing is the fifth CD from Inverness, Florida-based 6 &12 string acoustic guitarist Richard Gilewitz. Featuring seven originals—along with six interesting covers including a Bach lute piece and tracks written by Michael Hedges, John Fahey and John Renbourn—Thumbsing portrays Gilewitz as a modern day acoustic guitar innovator willing to take chances yet just as eager to point out where it all started from. A guitarist with considerable might and mastery, Gilewitz has shared the stage with guitar greats such as his mentor John Fahey, as well as Leo Kottke, Steve Morse, Adrian Legg and John Renbourn. Anyone familiar with those acoustic guitar legends will be equally intrigued by the noteworthy insights Gilewitz brings to the guitar world.

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