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Spring 2007









Places Between
(Sony Classical)

It’s a rare event when classical guitarist John Williams records a live album, so it’s a real surprise that for his first ever album for Sony he teamed with jazz guitar icon John Etheridge, who plays steel string acoustic here. In addition to covering tracks from his recent albums The Music Box (which also features Etheridge) and El Diablo Suelto, Williams and Etheridge draw on their mutual fascination and build bridges that span sounds from the countries of Africa and South America to a cover of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child.” Other highlights include the three part “Extra Time,” which Williams describes as ‘an extended, altered version of a well known Bach prelude,’ a pair of jazzy originals by Etheridge and a specially commissioned three part suite composed by American composer Benjamin Verdery, which also plays tribute to guitar hero Leo Kottke. The camaraderie and musicianship these two guitar aces summon up on Live In Dublin is a tribute to their unique stature in the guitar world. Love, peace and guitars indeed.



Guitar Masters Vol. 1
(BHP Music)

Perhaps the coolest thing about this first installment of the Guitar Masters series on BHP is just the sheer diversity of guitar styles and sounds in the running order of the 18 track CD. In his liner notes, Guitar Player editor Mike Molenda touches on all the artists appearing but clearly an album with this much scope requires two or three pages of liner notes. Guitar heads will freak out at the number of world classic guitarists here including Jeff Beck, Led Zep’s John Paul Jones, Steve Morse, Stanley Clarke, Joe Satriani, John Scofield and many more including BHP founder and series producer Brian Tarquin with his own “Jack Hammer.” It’s great to see the name Allan Holdsworth here and the track by Hellecasters guitar giant Will Ray—a sterling fusion rendition of the old Americana classic “Shenandoah”—is worth the price alone. Long Island’s Steve Booke is in top acoustic raga-rock form with his track, a version of “Frankenstein” by Doug Stapp is spot-on and “Rumba” by Marcus Nand will appeal to nuevo flamenco fans. Several lesser known names appear—but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth hearing—case in point being a spacey cut by James Ryan called “Space Talk.” With the exception of Jeff Beck—who lends his guitar on a vocal track called “54-46 Was My Number” from Toots & The Maytals—this all instrumental CD is just the ticket to put guitar-centric fusion back on the map.




Much to the amazement of international music lovers around the world, back in the ‘70s, the Finns invented a whole new language of music. Hastened by the arrival of English singer-songwriter Jim Pembroke in 1967, Finland forged a new rock texture, creating a hybrid rock instrumental sound, music without vocals that conjured up the national spirit or Kalevela of Finland. Following their work with Pembroke, Pekka Pohjola and guitar ace Jukka Tolonen can both take credit for introducing adventurous music lovers to this new melodic instrumental rock sound. 30 years later yet another new Finnish guitarist is forging a new sound that evokes the spirit of Pohjola. On his 2006 nine track Unea CD guitarist Timo Kämäräinen is supported legendary Finnish players including pedal steel ace Olli Haavisto and as such the music is wide scope prog rock instrumental with a solid jazzy pop edge. It’s been quite a while since Pekka Pohjola has made any new music so its great that Kämäräinen is doing an amazing job in his own way.



Acoustic guitarist Bruce Gaitsch puts his McPherson guitar to the test and comes up a winner on his 2006 CD Sincerely. There’s kind of a pastoral ECM vibe here and Gaitsch also benefits from some well placed harmonica work from Howard Levy. Back in the ‘70s Gaitsch worked with rock legends Jim Peterik, Richard Marx and numerous other sessions. Gaitsch and Autumn Records are very much involved with the great McPherson guitar company down in Nashville and commenting on his guitars used on Sincerely, Gaitsch adds, ‘My favorite acoustic guitars are my McPhersons. I have an MG-4.0 Macassar Ebony with Spruce top, an MG-4.5 Flamed Walnut with Bear Claw Sitka Spruce top and an MG-5.0 XP Quilted Maple with Engelmann Spruce top. They are the best guitars I have ever played—the Ebony is my overall favorite of the three.’ Bruce’s guitar-based expertise carries on with release of Sincerely—an album that sounds great with repeat spins.


Golden Guitars From The Depths

England had The Shadows, America had The Ventures, Sweden had The Spotnicks and Australia had The Atlantics. Funny enough Shadows guitar icon Hank Marvin lives in Australia, where guitar Peter “Flash” Sheedy is keeping the spirit of instrumental guitar alive and well. A mainstay on the Aussie guitar scene for decades, Flash enlists a hot rhythm section on his 15 track CD filled with originals and favorite guitar instro tracks, including Flash covering two tracks from the 1961 Shadows Lp. In his liner notes, Flash takes you on a sentimental guitar journey describing how these early ‘60s classics changed his life in Australia. For fans of vintage rock instro legends, let Flash get your foot tapping with Golden Guitars From The Depths. email:


Starting Now

Indiana guitarist Bryon Thompson continues to pummel music fans with the good vibes of his easy listening cinematic guitar instrumentals. Thompson’s D.I.Y. (do it yourself) approach means that this isn’t some over budgeted smooth jazz set on a major label, yet Thompson manages to more than get across his driving approach to instrumental rock guitar on his 2007 CD Starting Now, incorporating the influences of Hank Marvin, The Dregs, Steve Howe and beyond. A highlight is a cover of Danny Kirwan’s Fleetwood Mac classic “Sunny Side Of Heaven” that fits in well alongside Thompson guitar classics like “Says Who” and the title track. Thompson may be only doing music as a side job—he is renowned as a graphic illustrator—yet one can only ponder the potential that a top producer and studio would tap in to this stuff. Starting Now is a good place to check out Thompson’s melodic instrumental guitar tracks.

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
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