December, 2000 
CD Reviews

INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

 

DANIEL CHRISTOPHERSON
One Zillion Guitars
(Scrunchy Cat)

One of the great guitar discoveries of 2000, the new CD from guitarist Daniel Christopherson is filled with just about every sound and style of guitar playing under the sun. Imagine an instrumental guitar album that embraces influences from guitar giants like Hendrix, Beck and Trower all the while ushering in up-to-date musical direction, guitar innovations and memorable melodies. That, in a nutshell, describes the appropriately titled One Zillion Guitars. Christopherson wrote, recorded (with some handy assistance) and produced his 79 minute album and, after several spins, the care that went into making the CD really shows. After nine tracks of high-octane, fretboard-burning excitement, Christopherson continues proceedings with several atmospheric acoustic guitar extrapolations that add to the diversity and overall strengths of the album. In his extensive liner notes, the Seattle-based Christopherson waxes philosophically on the significance music has on every living soul. To top it all off, the CD booklet even includes a guitar lesson called "Power Chords Are Good For You." www.zillionguitars.com 


 
 

LAURENCE JUBER
LJ Plays The Beatles
(Solid Air)

Listen to RealAudio sample: For No One 

The tribute albums to pop legends The Beatles continues to grow. California-based guitarist Laurence Juber has a special connection to Fab Four great Paul McCartney. Juber, of course, joined Macca as the lead guitarist in Wings between 1978-81. Born in London, Juber was clearly influenced by the British pop scene of the Ď60 and, in addition to his work with McCartney, went on to record with top artists such as classical guitar great John Williams and rock icon Roger Daltrey. One of the top finger-style acoustic guitarists recording today, Juber is clearly in his element on his new solo guitar tribute to the Fab Four. Even the cover art, a takeoff on the Meet The Beatles album, is Beatles-inspired. Among the many highlights on LJ Plays The Beatles are covers of "I Saw Her Standing There", "Here Comes The Sun" and "This Boy". The selection may be skewed just a bit towards the McCartney side of Fab Four greatness, although the spirit of John Lennon is not forgotten here thanks to Juberís take of "Strawberry Fields Forever". Juberís ninth album, LJ Plays The Beatles is a most artistic and heartfelt tribute and is an essential spin for Beatle fans. www.laurencejuber.com  / www.acousticmusicresource.com 


 
  JIM HORN
A Beatles Tribute
(Jim Horn / Pathfinder)

So many great artists have recorded their own Beatles tribute CD or have appeared on any number of Fab Four tributes. But how many artists can claim to have appeared as a session player on an array of Beatles solo albums? Sax and Flute great Jim Horn began his career with the great Duane Eddy and later went on to record with each member of the Beatles on separate occasions. In the liner notes of his new CD, A Beatles Tribute, Horn fondly reflects back on his memorable Beatles solo sessions and his web site even features real audio clips featuring the likes of George Harrison and Ringo Starr praising Horn. As for the music on A Beatles Tribute, Horn serves up 14 well-chosen, quite enthusiastic, sax-based instrumental covers of all-time Fab Four classics like "I Feel Fine", "Something" and "The Ballad Of John And Yoko". Thereís even a cover of the Paul McCartney classic "Mull Of Kintyre". As for Hornís backing band thereís some great support from guitarists Louie Shelton and Brent Mason as well as drumming ace Eddie Bayers. Guitar legend Duane Eddy also adds his electric guitar touches to a cover of "We Can Work It Out". Pictures of Horn with each of the remaining Fabs in the CD booklet adds to timeless spirit of this elegant tribute album. www.jimhorn.com 


 
 

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Pickiní On The Beatles Vol 1 & 2
(CMH)

L.A.-based CMH Records continues their bluegrass tributes to the Beatles with the recent release of Pickiní On The Beatles Vol. 2. Following up on the success of Vol. 1, which featured cool country-tinged bluegrass covers of Fab Four faves like "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Paperback Writer" and "She Loves You", Vol. 2 serves up more tasty covers such as "Help", "Get Back", "Penny Lane", "Eleanor Rigby" and more. A number of skilled, but unfamed studio cats, including guitarists Billy Troy (acoustic, electric guitar) and Mike "Chickenhawk" Toppins (banjo, steel guitar), give it their best shot and the net result on both albums is a spirited, down home country pickiní tribute to the greatest music of the 20th century. Another interesting touch here are the cool CD covers which spoof Beatle album classics Magical Mystery Tour (on Vol. 2) and Abbey Road (Vol. 1). www.cmh.com 

 
  ROBBIE MCINTOSH
Unsung
(Compass)

Nashville-based Compass Records delighted fans of U.K. guitar great Robbie McIntosh with the release of his most recent studio album entitled Emotional Bends, which showcased McIntosh the singer-songwriter. Compass digs into the vaults for their latest reissue from Robbie. Unsung was first released several years ago and was offered on the Hitchhikerís Guide To The Galaxy website created by Doug Adams. In the liner notes for Unsung, Adams details his affinity for the McIntosh guitar sound stating, "Itís not folk, itís not jazz, itís not pop, itís not classical, itís just pure, pure music." Consisting mostly of McIntosh originals, Unsung also features several covers of Thelonious Monk, Chester Burnett, Chopin and others. An eclectic, entertaining collection of mostly instrumental, mostly acoustic gems, Unsung serves up an ample array of Robbieís acoustic guitar wizardry and is ripe for rediscovery for fans of the Paul McCartney and Pretenders guitar great. www.compassrecords.com 


 
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Liverpool Sound Collage
(Capitol)

The latest project from Beatles legend Paul McCartney furthers the experimental work Macca began on the two Fireman albums released during the mid-90ís. The soundtrack to About Collage, made for Peter Blakeís exhibition back in Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles, LSC proves that like Beatles legend John Lennon, McCartney also likes to dabble in experimental music. A joint production by McCartney, The Super Furry Animals and Youth, LSC samples and lifts various vocals and guitar sounds from session tapes The Beatles made back in the Ď60s. Other tracks feature interviews featuring some astonished passers-by as they were recorded by Macca himself on the streets of Liverpool. Concerning the album Macca says, "Itís a little side dish that is not to be confused with my other work. Itís more underground than what you usually hear from me, but I like to be free enough to do this sort of thing." The avant gard and experimental nature is clearly not for everybody, but after mulling over the Jerry Lewis pic on the CDís cover itís clear that long time Beatles fans are going to get a kick out of this disc. www.liverpoolsoundcollage.com 


 
  PHIL KEAGGY
Lights Of Madrid
(Word Artisan)

For fans of guitar great Phil Keaggy, the release of his two new albums is quite a blessing indeed. Word Artisan has just issued Keaggyís new pop album Inseparable while also issuing Lights Of Madrid, an all-instrumental affair that finds Phil joined by some great players such as Ken Lewis (drums), David Davidson (strings) and fellow guitarist Andy Martin to name a few. A impressive affair blending neoclassical, folk and Spanish guitar music, Lights Of Madrid is a masterful effort by one of the great guitar figures of our times. Describing the album Keaggy adds, "I really like it. It has a Latin feel to it, but there is a bit of a classical feel to it as well. World music, international music, classical, jazz, blues. As an artist, as a guitarist, I have taken an interest in all of those genres." A relaxing, nostalgic album, Lights Of Madrid is one of Keaggyís great instrumental discs. www.philkeaggy.com 


 
  JAMES COHEN
La Tormenta
(VKO)

Listen to RealAudio sample: La Tormenta 

Ottawa-based guitarist James Cohen recently released his latest CD and after listening to it several times itís safe to say that it comes highly recommended to fans of the Flamenco guitar revival of the mid Ď90s. Coming from a rock guitar background, Cohen had the good fortune of working with guitar great Mick Ronson in addition to writing numerous pop and rock songs over the past 25 years. After being exposed to Flamenco guitarists Paco De Lucia and Tomatito, Cohen threw himself into learning the complex art of Flamenco guitar while studying the lightening quick techniques of Spanish Gypsy music. The results of his devotion come to fruition with La Tormenta. Cohenís technique and overall grasp of the Flamenco guitar form is quite astounding. The music here flows freely and Cohenís approach perfectly suits his appealing original compositions. Several other artists appear including Ottawa blues great Tony D and guitarist Sue Foley. Cohenís understanding of the Flamenco guitar form has also resulted in his creation of the first Flamenco and world rhythm metronome which he calls the VKO Mundobeat. A real treat for Flamenco and modern classical guitar fans, La Tormenta is truly guitar music for guitar lovers. www.james-cohen.com  / www.vko.com 


 
  MARTIN TAYLOR
Kiss & Tell
(Columbia)

Instrumental guitar jazz doesnít get any smoother than on the Columbia Records debut of U.K. guitar great Martin Taylor. According to the guitarist, "Itís really an idea that goes back to Wes Montgomery and albums like California Dreaminí, which was probably one of the first commercial music albums I heard that I really liked." Recorded in NYC and Nashville, the CD finds Taylor accompanied by Eddie Gomez (bass), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Brian Siewert (keyboards) as well as many other fine players. On Kiss & Tell Taylor & company revive vintage classics such as "Mona Lisa", "Midnight At The Oasis" as well as the Hawaii "Five-O" theme and "The Odd Couple" theme, written by Ď60s TV composer Neil Hefti. A self-taught musician who has recorded numerous albums, including one with Yes guitar legend Steve Howe, Taylor is clearly a name for guitar fans to know more about. www.martintaylor.com  / www.legacyrecordings.com 


 
  PETE MARINOVICH
Nude With Guitar
Second Voice
(Minstrel)

In the spirit of acoustic guitar great Pierre Bensusan comes Maryland-based guitarist Pete Marinovich. On his first album, Nude With Guitar, released back in Ď97, Marinovich accompanies himself on acoustic and electric guitars, percussion and vocals on the title track. Enchanting, well-played and extremely relaxing, Nude With Guitar is a great listen for fans of acoustic guitarists such as Leo Kottke. On his recently released second album Second Voice, Marinovich is accompanied by jazz pianist Elliot Levine. Just as impressive as Nude With Guitar, the all-instrumental, nine track Second Voice spotlights a number of Marinovich originals as well as covers of The Beatles ("In My Life" and "Michelle") and the Jerry Jeff Walker classic "Mr. Bojangles". Jazzy playing with just the right amount of classical, Flamenco and folk guitar touches, both albums feature artistic guitar work and hold up nicely with repeat listenings. www.minstrel.net 


 
  TRANCE LUCID
Vigil
(Altra Mix)

During the mid-90ís, guitarist-composer Dave Halverson released the first Trance Lucid album, Arise to favorable critical acclaim. Tastefully influenced by the guitar-friendly electric jazz of Pat Metheny, Halverson continues to add his own unique stamp to the developing Trance Lucid sound. Now based in the S.F. Bay area, founding members Halverson and drummer Terry Lee regrouped again with Bill Noertker on fretless bass and have just released the second Trance Lucid album Vigil. More dreamy and intricate sounding then Arise, the newly released Vigil should quickly find an audience among fans of tastefully performed guitar-based fusion music. Halversonís vision of intelligent and innovative instrumental guitar music is fully realized on Vigil. www.trancelucid.net 


 
 
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