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July / August 2003








The Journey Within

Once in a while the music business throws you a curve and in this case it’s the debut CD by New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams. Armed with some noteworthy guitar chops and an album’s worth of diverse instrumental, Latin-flavored jazz-rock songs that leaves a favorable and lasting impression, Williams hits that curve ball out of the park on The Journey Within. One listen confirms that as good as Williams is with the Yankees he’s equally in his element as a guitarist and composer on The Journey Within. Growing up in Puerto Rico and being exposed to salsa and blues as well as his classical training primed Williams for music early in his life. Bernie split his time between music and baseball and he partly credits his musicianship to his career success as a ball player adding, “"music gives you rhythm, makes things flow, a lot of things you can utilize in baseball having a musical mind". Interestingly, Paul McCartney—who contributes liner notes to the album—states, "I was just blown away by his talent, It's a home run." McCartney signed Williams to his MPL publishing company to which Bernie says, "Working with Paul a dream come true, it brings the whole album project full circle." Some incredible players assist Bernie on his CD including NYC session guitar great David Spinoza, keyboard legend David Sancious, Bernie’s brother Hiram Williams (cello) and drummers Kenny Aronoff and Shawn Pelton to name a few. Also contributing are Panamanian salsa king Ruben Blades, jazz banjo master Bela Fleck, Puerto Rican salsa star Gilberto Santa Rosa as well as such top support players as bass ace Leland Sklar. The CD features seven original Williams compositions plus versions of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes," Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" and Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell's "Samba Novo." There’s even Bernie’s tribute to those great James Bond soundtracks, “Enter The Bond” and the moving set-closer, “The Williams Kids” featuring contributions from Bernie's children. Recorded in NYC, The Journey Within is truly one of the 'ear-opening' guitar instrumental albums of 2003.



One Quiet Night
(Warner Bros.)

Discussing his 2003 album on Warner Bros. guitar legend Pat Metheny states, “This record is about essentially one sound, basically one mood, and taking the time to go deep inside that single world. Unlike most of our recordings that have involved lots of planning and sophisticated recording studios, this one started and ended with just a single guitar and a mic.” Metheny is at his most guitar-centric and atmospheric on One Quiet Night. Like a late night drive on a long stretch of highway, the musical spirit here is nocturnal and comforting. Recorded by Pat in NYC on his Linda Manzer baritone guitar, the 12 track CD has that classic Metheny signature guitar sound written all over it. Just like the flashback cover art, One Quiet Night is evocative solo guitar music at it’s best. Filled with a number of originals and covers, the album highlight has got to be Pat’s truly sensitive rendition of the Gerry Marsden British invasion classic “Ferry Cross The Mersey”.



Amor de Guitarra

In the words of guitar master Armik, “With Amor De Guitarra I discovered my true love for the guitar.” Drawing upon Armik’s personal collection of over 45 hand-made Flamenco guitars, his 2003 CD on Bolero Records is clearly his best yet while his incredible fretboard mastery reaches new heights. With it’s skillful mixture of Spanish folk melodies, Latin flamenco, bossa nova, rhumba, cha-cha and gypsy jazz influences, the eleven track Amor De Guitarra will intrigue those who thought they’d heard it all.


Bridge The Gap

Teaming with keyboardist / programmer Allon Sams and several other players, Les Sabler’s 2003 release Bridge The Gap is an instrumental guitar album that crosses several genres yet fits quite comfortably into the George Benson / Wes Montgomery smooth jazz guitar realm. Sabler’s ‘90s albums, Hidden Treasure and Time For Love earned him critical acclaim and he’s really hit his stride with his 2003 album Bridge The Gap. Sabler exhibits some fine fretboard finesse on his Gibson and Martin guitars and with Sams handling all the keyboards and programming, Bridge The Gap positively glows. Influences such as Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour and Acoustic Alchemy are in there yet there’s something quite original about Sabler’s elegant approach to instrumental guitar jazz.


40 Aniversario

One of the best of the current Shadows-style instrumental guitar bands from Spain, Los Jets put out their 40 Aniversario CD in 2003. With a history of recordings dating back to their first big hit, “Zorongo” in 1961, it’s great to be able to report Los Jets are still going strong. Featuring the talents of their drummer of 22 years, Eduardo Bartrina and original Los 4 Jets guitarist Santiago Gonzales—who formed the band in 1958 with his brother Jose Maria40 Aniversario may very well be their best album yet. Filled with intriguing originals, new covers of fabled Shadows classics (“The Miracle”, “Peace Pipe”) and new reworkings of guitar-based classics like “Fly Me To The Moon”, “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “How Deep Is Your Love”, 40 Aniversario is a mature, compelling work by expert musicmakers.


The Intercontinentals

Releasing an album with possibly the coolest cover art of 2003, guitar ace Bill Frisell returns with a solid set by his group The Intercontinentals. The 2003 CD is also called The Intercontinentals and with players from Brazil, Macedonia and Mali on board, you best believe Frisell means business. That said, there’s nothing more sublime than hearing Frisell’s sinuous electric guitar backed up by the sonic seasonings of Intercontinentals’ ace pedal steel and slide guitarist Greg Leisz, who also appears on Frisell’s albums Blues Dream and Good Dog, Happy Man. Several tropical-flavored Brazilian vocal tracks by guitarist / singer Vinicius Cantuaria also adds quite a bit to the global vibe at work on The Intercontinentals, while some spine tingling violin work of Jenny Scheinman brings further scope to Frisell’s far out vision of a cosmic, instrumental world-beat bluegrass group. A master of ambient Americana music—from instrumental jazz to country roots—Frisell has always thrived on uncanny diversity. After all, he’s worked with everybody from Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach to Ginger Baker and William S. Burroughs. Bill Frisell is at his best on his latest unique amalgamation of American roots music mixed up with the exotic musical sounds of Brazilian, Greek and Malian sounds. And you’ve got to check out that cool CD packaging.

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 e-mail:

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