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His first Stateside release in years, a 2004 DVD release on Music Video Distributors, simply called Jan Akkerman Live, captures two live September, 2001 German concert performances from Dutch guitar great Jan Akkerman. Blazing away backed by a band of younger players nearly half his age, Akkerman entices the crowd with his electrifying instrumental blend of classical, bluesy, jazz-rock guitar virtuosity. The DVD features an eye-catching 16 page booklet loaded with background material and glossy color shots of the shows while the music captures Akkerman in rare form before packed houses. As his 2004 studio album C.U. proves, if anything, Akkerman’s guitar technique has improved since his days in Focus and this live DVD goes a long way towards confirming Akkerman as certainly among the finest guitar players to ever emerge from continental Europe. A bonus track features footage from a ‘70s jam session between Akkerman and flamenco wizard Paco De Lucia, a performance on lute tied together with a recent video interview of Akkerman speaking quite eloquently about his guitar past. Thanks to the English subtitles we’re able to catch a rare insight into a true guitar legend.



This Way Up

According to jazz-rock guitar pioneer Pat Metheny, “This is our most ambitious undertaking ever as a group—and we have never been so excited about a project.” Moving over to Nonesuch Records in 2004 following a sizable repertoire of albums on ECM, Geffen and Warner Bros. Records, Metheny and long time keyboard accomplice Lyle Mays have recorded a wild musical pastiche that encompasses just about every musical aspect the two have touched on these past 30 years. Under the helm of record company mogul Bob Hurwitz, Nonesuch have recently been tapping into the spirit of classic Americana style sounds with recent titles from Brian Wilson and the band Wilco (a great name for a Wilson inspired band if there was one!) and Metheny’s early 2005 album The Way Up is another perfect tribute to the label’s adventurous spirit. The double barreled sound of Metheny and Mays—backed up by a great band—is always a treat and on The Way Up they achieve an incredible blend of sounds. Recorded in NYC in 2004, the 70 minute opus is broken into four parts that flow together and the ear candy scenery just flows on by in no time at all. /



El Kaptitan

If you took the best instrumental qualities of Meddle-era Pink Floyd and soundtrack composer Jan Hammer circa his cinematic Miami Vice years you might arrive with a musical concoction in the spirit of the first album from El Kapitan. Completely performed by guitarist Kirk Bartholomew and keyboardist Marc Soucy, the first CD from El Kapitan, Retroscape starts of with an icy instrumental version of the Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon classic “Breathe.” Following a dramatic intro, the rest of the CD goes on to demonstrate the duo’s mastery on a wealth of musical instruments as well as some impressive studio production from Soucy. The high tech edge and a fine tuned approach to combining melody and atmosphere carries their unique brand of instrumental New Age rock music right along. The lush musical scenery on Retroscape makes listening to El Kapitan a trip worth taking.



A mixture of classical masterworks from Fernando Sor, Manuel De Fallia, Joaquin Rodrigo, Niccolo Paganini, Leo Brouwer, Andrew York and Johan Kasper Mertz, Invocation is a solid showcase for the classical guitar performance of L.A. based Scott Morris. Having studied in master classes with Sharon Isbin, Pepe Romero and Eliot Fisk, Morris made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall in 1998 and his 2004 CD further establishes him as a master of the solo classical guitar. Released on Eroica Classical Recordings, Invocation was produced by John Dearman of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and captures an enthralling fingerstyle classical guitar performance by Morris on his Thomas Humphrey ‘Millennium Guitar’ on the modern, contemporary music, switching to a replica of a Johann Stauffer guitar for early 19th century music. In addition to his homage to some of the greatest classical guitar music ever written on Invocation, Morris is also a member of the Hollywood Guitar Duo, who released their self-titled debut on Eroica and are currently preparing an ‘all-Hollywood film score’ program by composers such as Elmer Bernstein and John Williams.



If you fail to catch a buzz off of Holyland, by N.J. based 12 string electric bassist Tony Senatore, you’ve either got a tin ear, or you’re dead! Like bass greats Chris Squire and the late great John Entwistle, Senatore is masterful at mixing melody, mood and magic. Case in point is a fabulous nine minute, jazz-rock instrumental medley of classic Beatles music, which Senatore calls “Shapla”. From his CD liner notes Senatore adds, “With this track I tried to reproduce the vibe of the very first concert that I ever attended. George Harrison at Madison Square Garden, with Ravi Shankar as the opening act.” Preceding “Shapla”, Holyland features another Beatles instrumental—a somber and stately reading of the Abbey Road classic “Because”—with Senatore on upright bass assisted by Tom Hammer (keyboard programming). Many players spur on Senatore’s excellent work on upright bass, electric piccolo bass, and fretless 4 and 12 string bass including Van Romaine (drums), Andrew Rothstein (guitar), Manolo Badrena (percussion), one time Yes keyboardist Tom Brislin (Hammond B-3, mellotron) and pedal steel ace John Widgren. Senatore also credits album co-producer Frank D. Fagnano adding, “For so many reasons, this record would not have been possible without him.” In mapping out his vision of a truly deep and meaningful progressive bass oriented instrumental album, Senatore wisely made sure that there’s bound to be something here for all fans of progressive rock and fusion music.


Control Freak
(Belly Jelly Music)

Don’t let the humorous cover art fool you—there’s some seriously rocking instrumental music here. Released by Alabama-based guitarist Bill Jehle, control FREAK clocks in under fifteen minutes, yet there’s a wealth of guitar-based jazz-rock sounds that combines the time-honored sound with some unexpected twists and turns. In addition to the seven tracks featuring Jehle on all guitars, bass, drum programming, robot voices and more, the CD features a part two enhanced track that let’s you see what you hear Jehle creating a custom logo, replacing a guitar neck, building a guitar body and neck and more. Commenting of the 2004 release Jehle adds, “Here you can learn about how I built each of my guitars, step by step. Then listen to a set of tracks that I composed to squeeze every possible type of sound from them.” Jehle proves himself to be a colorful character indeed and his freewheeling’, inventive spirit and love of all things guitars comes sharply into focus on the sublimely freaky control FREAK CD.

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