March-April, 2001
CD Reviews



Marvin At The Movies

U.K. guitar great and founding member of The Shadows, Hank B. Marvin has proven to be one of the great guitar instrumentalists over the past 40 years. Not only is Marvin a phenomenal singer-songwriter and guitar stylist, but he also continues his unique ability to breath new life into song classics from years past. Marvin’s solo albums, as well as albums he recorded with The Shadows, have always featured a mix of originals and classic covers. Spotlighting a tight support band, including Warren Bennett (guitars/keyboards) Mark Griffiths (bass) and Trevor Spencer (drums), Marvin’s latest is a sensational all-covers instrumental affair. Recorded in Australia, Marvin At The Movies serves up guitar-based instrumentals of song classics like "A Hard Day’s Night", "The Sound Of Silence" and the Troggs’ classic "Love Is All Around". In keeping with the theme of the CD, each of the 17 tracks here has been featured in a movie classic at one time or another. After kicking the CD off with favorites from The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, Marvin moves closer to his instro roots with covers of John Barry ("Goldfinger"), Michel Legrand ("Windmills Of Your Mind") and Ennio Morricone ("The Good, The Bad & The Ugly"). Let’s hope Hank get’s back to recording his own music on future albums, but for now Marvin At The Movies will do just fine for Shadows and Hank Marvin fans.  / 



(If 6 Was 9)

Listen to RealAudio sample: The Web 

Released at the end of the ‘90s, the self titled CD from L.A.-based guitarist Curtis Fornadley is the follow-up to his mid ‘90s album If 6 Was 9. Clearly influenced by the eclectic playing of Jimi Hendrix, Curtis also sports well chosen influences such as David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana. A top-notch composite of both chops and convincing musical moves, Curtis demonstrates the guitarist’s impressive skills both as a guitar stylist and composer. Moving easily between polished jazz-rock, a melodic guitar groove and a bluesy shade of rock, Curtis is loaded with one tasty guitar instrumental after another. There’s even a couple of vocal cuts featuring Fornadley’s commendable vocal skills. Featuring an array of melodic arrangements, Curtis also takes in a well chosen cover of Michel Legrand’s "The Summer Knows". Demonstrating his inspiring know-how on guitars, vocals, bass and keyboards, Curtis receives kindred support from Scott Shepherd and Steve Baur (drums) and Dan Mouck (bass). Guaranteed to take you there and back on a sonic roller coaster, Curtis is a rock solid, mostly instrumental guitar album packed with all the right musical moves. Coming soon is the 2001 album from Curtis entitled Room 137. 

Wind Water Excursions
(New Millennium Age)

A player on the Manhattan rock and performance art scene since the ‘70s, acoustic guitarist and keyboardist David Belmont recently released his new album. Featuring an array of fine side players, including master percussionist Josh Neretin, Wind Water Excursions skillfully merges lushly textured New Age and folk music into one highly appealing instrumental music package. As ambient background music or highly meditative foreground listening, the nine track CD works on a number of levels. Like the title suggests, the album maintains a flow of creative musical ideas carrying the listener to a contented final destination. Divided into two parts, the four part Awakening Suite In Open D and Elliptical Excursions, the album also spotlights a special instrumental cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Moonlight Mile". Combined here with "Beyond The Frozen Sky", the track is a fitting tribute to the late, great Michael Hedges. Recorded in NYC, Wind Water Excursions is one of the finest ambient instrumental albums of the recent past and is strongly recommended to fans of reflective New Age music. 

Disruption Theory

A spectacular collision of manifold musical thoughts and patterns, Disruption Theory introduces the talents of L.A.-based guitarist Andre Lafosse. Laced with a complex pattern of rock solid drum and bass rhythms, Disruption Theory integrates an expansive spectrum of guitar sounds and visions drawing from jazz, rock, avantgarde, ambient and World Beat. With it’s myriad maze of sinewy jungle rhythms and other worldly musical shadings, Disruption Theory is also very much a guitar album. In fact, Lafosse goes great lengths to point out that all sounds on the album, aside from drum programming and the occasional mellotron, are all created with an electric guitar. To call Disruption Theory a futuristic album would be an understatement. Using electric guitars to chart an exploratory trek into the musical twilight zone, Lafosse breaks down musical borders and in doing so he has come up with a high-tech instrumental guitar album that is clearly daring and certainly different. 


A guitar album filled with soaring electric leads and deft acoustic work, Esoteric is the latest album from L.A. guitarist Tony Palkovic. On Esoteric Palkovic is joined by some superior side players including the esteemed Patrick Moraz, a master best known for his keyboard and synth work with Yes, The Moody Blues and Refugee. Also on hand here are Krys Mach (from Level 42 on sax), Kevin Sherrill (drums), Joe Lizama (percussion) and Mike Paganini (bass). Palkovic has been playing guitar since the age of 12 and his long standing respect for the instrument really shows on this top notch outing. In the spirit of guitar icons like Alan Holdsworth and Jan Akkerman, Palkovic’s music is filled with action packed jazz-rock arrangements and ultra sharp musicianship. In addition to his nimble electric and acoustic guitar work, Palkovic demonstrates his abilities on keyboards and guitar synths which effortlessly blends right into the sonic soundscapes here. Esoteric is jazz-rock of the highest caliber, skillfully executed and guaranteed to blast you right into the musical stratosphere. Available from all major internet retail sites. 


On his new five track CD guitar wiz Paul Nelson joins forces with some excellent players for a sizzling set of jazz-rock fusion that really packs a punch. Influenced early on by legends like Beck and Hendrix and later by fusion kings such as Holdsworth and McLaughlin, Nelson further developed his swift guitar touch while studying at Berklee under the great Steve Vai. Although he cut his teeth early on as the lead guitarist in the metal band Liege Lord, Nelson really rises to the occasion on his new solo outing. Featuring contributions from Dean Vali (bass), Mike Mancini (keyboards) and Jim Vali (drums), the five track instrumental Look CD covers a lot of ground, from heavy metal to jazz-rock fusion to a bluesy shade of rock no doubt inspired by Nelson’s early Albert King influence. Just out on Big Wave Entertainment, Look is loaded with an abundance of high-tech studio expertise making for a truly sensational spin. 


One of the most revered musicians from the heyday of the mid ‘70s European progressive rock scene, Lasse Hollmer recently released his latest solo album. As a member of the great ‘70s Swedish instrumental rock group Zamla Mammaz Manna, Hollmer literally changed the landscape of European prog-rock music. While not as rocked out as Zamla, Utsikter (Swedish for Views) finds Hollmer in a contemplative and introspective mood. Hollmer’s music continually finds imaginative ways to combine accordian-based Swedish folk music with all sorts of musical genres - from pop and rock to neoclassical and ambient electronic. Utsikter also features long time Hollmer associates such as Michel Berckmans (bassoon, oboe), Wolfgang Solomon (bass, guitar), Swedish guitar great Coste Apetrea (six string banjo) and Kalle Eriksson (trumpet). Compared to the rocked out Zamla comeback album from last year, Kaka, the recent Utsikter is a relative love fest filled with pastoral Swedish melodies and harmonious reveries only a master such as Hollmer could inspire. 

(Desert Rock)

Just like the title imparts, Meditations offers twelve lush, instrumental acoustic guitar pieces that pair Lanzbom’s acoustic guitar with bass, harp, strings and flute. Lanzbom gained notoriety for his guitar work in Soulfarm, a New York area rock band known for combining Middle Eastern influences with country and blues-rock. Commenting on Meditations Lanzbom says, "This gives me an opportunity to work on my classical, acoustic and more improvisational and world beat leanings." Lanzbom sounds inspired by his time spent in Israel and the music on Meditations takes in a wide range of New Age guitar work. At various moments, the album reveals Lanzbom’s fondness for the guitar sounds of Leo Kottke and Pat Metheny. Moody and quite moving in places, Meditations is filled with memorable melodies and Lanzbom’s refined acoustic guitar playing. Meditations is Lanzbom’s third solo album, following up his earlier albums From This Day On (1998) and Beyond This World (1996). 


Mountain Tale

The country of Finland continues to produce some of the finest guitar-based instrumental rock coming out of Europe today. One of the best group’s are The Beatmakers. Released on the Holland-based Rarity Records, Mountain Tale is a perfect example of the European approach to guitar instrumental music. With no allusions to surf music or hot rod racing, Mountain Tale is purely melodic and highly arranged, reverb-soaked guitar instrumental music. Clearly influenced by the sophisticated, congenial pop approach The Shadows brought to the guitar instrumental music scene back in the ‘60s, The Beatmakers sound is driven by the twin guitar attack of rhythm guitarist Pekka Tiilikainen and the group’s lead guitarist Juha Heinonen. Backed up by the solid rhythm section of Jori Venemies (bass) and Hannu Y. Tuomola (drums), the new 21 track Beatmakers CD is a real treat for fans of European guitar-instrumental sounds. 

Freestyle Guitar

One of the best examples of the new power-acoustic guitar sound, the latest CD from North Carolina-based Travis Steele Nevels is bursting with incredible flat-picking acoustic guitar work. Deemed the 1998 North & South Carolina Fingerpicking Guitar Champion, Nevels combines banjo rolls, alternate tunings, power riffs and acoustic slaps and comes up with a unique sound which he calls "American Freestyle Fingerstyle". Nevels claims to have been influenced early on by banjo great Earl Scruggs, yet on his new album he clearly breaks new ground with a unique and thoroughly invigorating guitar sound. Nevels takes the spirit of Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges and Southern guitar greats like Duane Allman and Dickey Betts and rolls it all up into one highly appealing new acoustic guitar set. Some may call it unorthodox, but guitar fans will be blown away by just how commanding a steel string acoustic guitar can sound in the hands of Travis Steele Nevels. In addition to his new guitar CD, Nevels also has a fine ‘how-to’ book for those looking to improve their own guitar chops. The Freestyleguitar Method doesn’t push music theory in the classical sense, but it is filled with a ‘streetwise’ approach to guitar playing and is fun and easy guitar instruction for those looking to enhance their fretboard and songwriting skills.  / 

From A To B

Back in the early ‘70s, Emerson, Lake & Palmer enchanted progressive rock fans with their patented blend of keyboard-based music. Even back then, some said the one thing missing from the trio’s line-up was a hot guitarist. Well thirty years later keyboardist Jeremy Cubert succeeds in executing a similar sound in the time-honored ELP spirit and rounding out the JC Project sound is some fine work from electric/acoustic guitarist Bill Curtis. Curtis also rises to the occasion with his production, engineering and compositional work. Not only does Cubert exhibit impressive keyboard and compositional skills, but he also adds in some tasty work on Chapman Stick and synth bass. Rounding out the project CD is outstanding support from Anna Hubbell (violin) and Chris Mack (drums). From A To B is a well rounded album of elegantly performed instrumental progressive rock with just the right touches of classical and New Age sounds. 

Triple Stop
(J Curve)

Released as part of the J Curve Roots & Blues series, Triple Stop marks the return of Cincinnati-based guitarist Scotty Anderson. A jaw-dropping mixture of instrumental bluegrass, jazz and rockabilly music, Triple Stop is a guitar lover’s feast. It’s been 15 years since his last solo project (1985’s Sleight Of Hand), yet Anderson doesn’t miss a beat here. Although the music is played in a thoroughly original manner, a number of influences do come to mind while listening, especially giants like Jimmy Bryant, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Danny Gatton, Buddy Emmons and even Carlos Santana. Anderson’s ‘68 Telecaster catches fire on a number of the original cuts here as well as a swinging cover of the "Theme From Perry Mason". Anderson enlists some fine accompaniment from a well rounded cast of side players and the top production from Patrick Kelly is a marvel to behold. Triple Stop is one guitar album that will delight jazzers, country-rockers and instrumental rockers alike. 

New World Relampagos

Back during the pre-Beatles ‘60s, U.K. instrumental pop greats The Shadows changed the pop world with their patented brand of guitar-based instrumental music. So influential were The Shads that just about every European country had their own version of The Shadows. In the ‘60s, the group known as Los Relampagos became the most popular instrumental rock group in Spain. Similar in spirit to The Shadows, Duane Eddy and The Ventures, Los Relampagos (Spanish for ‘Lightning Bolts’) injected their rockin’ instrumental sound with an added dose of Flamenco and passionate Spanish melodies. Looking back at the considerable legacy of Los Relampagos, two of the original members recently reunited with some gifted younger players for a unique tribute to the group’s legacy. For New World Relampagos, guitarist Jose Luis Armenteros and keyboardist Pablo Herrero join forces with guitarist Ivan Pongracic, Sam Bolle (bass) and Dusty Watson (drums) for a newly released 17 track tribute CD. Masterfully recorded and essential for guitar instrumental buffs, New World Relampagos helps set the record straight regarding the important, yet sadly neglected music Los Relampagos recorded in Spain during the heyday of the ‘60s. 

Surfin’ The Southwest, Santa Fe Style

During the early 60’s The Knights were a popular guitar instrumental rock band hailing from the American Southwest. Featuring guitarist Dick Stewart, the group changed direction at the inception of Beatlemania by adding a few vocals to their set. Following a name change to King Richard & The Knights, the band called it quits by 1967. In 1998 Dick Stewart revived The Knights and since then they’ve been releasing some splendid new CDs. Still sounding inspired by guitar rock favorites like The Shadows and The Ventures, the latest Knights album continues the legendary instrumental rock sound the band became famous for nearly 40 years ago. Aided by original Knights bassist Gary Snow and Steve Hudgins (drums), Stewart rises to the occasion on Surfin’ The Southwest. The 11 track CD features a solid performance from Stewart & company. Like the best guitar instrumental albums, Surfin’ is filled with a melodic, satisfying guitar sound driven by a convincing surf-rock beat. Since their reformation back in 1998, The Knights have released several other fine guitar instrumental albums including Precision, I Don’t Need You and the recently released Surfin’ The Web. Coming soon from The Knights is Then And Now, an album consisting of ten classic ‘60s Knights tracks and their newly recorded Y2K versions. 

In The Name Of Bach
(Masi Music / Lion)

The music of Bach has been taken up by everyone from classical guitar great John Williams to synth pioneer Wendy Carlos often with tremendous results. As a child growing up in Venice Italy, Masi was raised with the sounds of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, although at the dawn of the progressive rock heyday he gravitated towards the sounds of Yes, Tull and Gentle Giant. Those years of the early ‘70s, when musicianship was king, have remained near and dear to Masi, and he now returns to pay homage to his early classical music influences. In The Name Of Bach features 15 keyboard and violin Bach pieces that Masi has skillfully transcribed for solo acoustic and electric guitars. Bach’s music has always been a challenge for guitarists to perform, yet in Masi’s hands the music flows effortlessly from start to finish. Recorded in L.A., In The Name Of Bach fulfills a long time childhood dream of Masi’s and the CD is a stunning example of just how much of an influence Bach’s music still exerts on modern rock guitarists. 

(Hearts Of Space)

Guitar fans looking for something unique are advised to check out the CD debut from renowned pedal steel guitarist and studio ace Bruce Kaphan. The pedal steel guitar is known for it’s amazing ability to conjure up a wealth of musical moods. From it’s usual application in dressing up country music to Steve Howe’s distinctive rock performance of the instrument in Yes classics from past archives, the pedal steel is clearly in a class of it’s own. On Slider, S.F. Bay area guitarist Kaphan drives his pedal steel down just about every musical avenue imaginable. From meditative ramblings and country tinged reveries to abstract avant gard impressions, Slider covers the bases when it comes to the pedal steel sound. Kaphan proves his expertise on the instrument while also performing all the backing tracks on drums, guitar, bass, lap steel, dobro, viola and mandolin. For World Beat buffs, there’s even an excursion into Indian music pairing the pedal steel with a sitar. On Slider, Kaphan unleashes the true majesty of the pedal steel guitar with an instrumental album that ventures into numerous genres with style and striking ingenuity. 

(Pacific Moon)

The popularity of Asian music continues to rise in the U.S. and Seattle-based Pacific Moon Records is one label clearly in the forefront of that trend. The CDs on Pacific Moon clearly falls under the New Age or Meditation music banner, although in Asia, New Age music is often described as ‘healing music’. The music in Asia is as diverse as the countries themselves, often incorporating completely different tonal systems and totally diverse musical instruments. Although some Asian artists, Kitaro for instance, use elaborate high tech gear as their focal point, many Asian artists today are returning to centuries old instruments. Case in point is the new album from Chinese pipa virtuoso Shao Rong who has just released her new album Orchid on Pacific Moon. The pipa is the Chinese equivalent of the lute and in Shao Rong’s hands the instrument takes on enchanting, multi-dimensional qualities. On Orchid, Ms. Rong combines the shimmering sounds of the ancient pipa with a wealth of Western instruments such as piano, guitar and bass. Orchid also features a number of other Asian instruments like erhu and shakuhachi. According to Ms. Rong, "I tried many new musical techniques on this album. On different songs, I try to make the lute do different things." A superbly recorded and elegantly packaged album, Orchid makes a wonderful addition to the impressive catalog of modern Asian musical masterpieces on Pacific Moon. 

(New World)

New World Music has been releasing state of the art New Age instrumental music since 1982. Embracing the concept of music as medicine, New World continues their unyielding devotion to peaceful, meditative music guaranteed to change your spirits for the better. A perfect example of just how strong New Age music can be as a healing force is the latest album from Llewellyn. The multi-talented Llewellyn has released albums such as Tantric Sexuality and Body Control, yet on Moonlore he draws new found musical inspiration from the power of the Moon. Inspired by the world of Celtic imagery, Moonlore is a romantic, inspirational musical adventure. Similar in scope to some of Mike Oldfield’s more pastoral ‘70s music, Moonlore is superbly consummated, mostly instrumental music featuring a mix of acoustic guitars, pipes, whistles, piano and assorted atmospheric effects. Three of the nine tracks feature vocals by Llewellyn and Juliana. Moonlore is arranged with such finesse and musical savvy that it’s easy to lose sight of exactly what’s happening. But perhaps that’s the point. If you pick up one New Age album this year, make it Moonlore. 


It’s been twenty years since his last album, but Canadian guitarist Lyall Steel has just returned for his new album. Regarding his time away from the music world, Steel adds, "there was a 16-year gap in seriously pursuing music and I guess it was one of those artist things. Twenty years between recordings and it feels right". Filled with cleverly composed and tastefully performed solo guitar pieces, Emanations puts it all together with talent and inspiration. There isn’t any one style of music dominating the album, yet Emanations is a veritable showcase for Steel’s impressive approach and mastery of the nylon string classical guitar. Throughout the album, Steel demonstrates a fondness for classical, Flamenco and folk guitar techniques. He’s also quite well versed in blues as well as Latin and jazz guitar styles. On Emanations, Steel’s playing exudes a musical rapport that guitarists rarely achieve on their own. In addition, the CD packaging features creative layout and track-by-track notes in English, Spanish and French. 

Nashville Guitars
(Nuance / Lightyear)

Subtitled A Showcase Of Nashville’s Hottest Guitar Players, the latest CD from the Louie Shelton-run Nuance Records compiles 11 new tracks of superb guitar-based instrumental music from the likes of fretboard masters like Jim Olander, Reggie Young, Mark Castevens along with an array of other fine guitarists. Shelton also contributes the set-closing "High Roller". Described by some guitar lovers as being like ‘Tele-Heaven’, Nashville Guitars rings true as a country rock-flavored instrumental album, but the spirited guitar work by all the players cuts across musical borders and should appeal to those listeners who simply love top notch guitar playing. Combining the spirit of country music with a hefty dose of high density ‘chicken-pickin’, Nashville Guitars is the ticket for those looking to check out the finest guitarists in Nashville today. The CD booklet features eye-catching artwork along with complete bios of all the guitarists on hand. Louie Shelton and Nuance Records deserve credit for bringing this CD of new and noteworthy country guitarists into the hands of music lovers.  / 

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


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