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September and October Short Takes

Mike Rood "The Desert and the City," 2011 Mike Roodís recording debut, "The Desert and the City" shows the making of a truly impressive fingerstyle guitarist. Born into a musical family, Rood began playing guitar by age seven. He also studied classical piano for thirteen years, winning the Nicolas Flagello piano competition in 2000 and 20001. Lured by the endless creativity of improvised music, Rood earned a bachelorís degree at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. This release also features a cast of kindred spirits featuring Alex Sprading on bass, Goh Izama on drums and Mike Bjella on saxophone.. Together they weave elaborate harmonic tapestries over the vast sonic landscapes composed by the leader. Rood has a pianistic approach to the guitar, using fingerpicks he is able to execute unique chord voicings and intricate single note improvisations. Compositionally this album is solid, with influences ranging from classical, rock, and contemporary jazz. The opening title track sets the stage for the album with pensive melodic motifs followed by spacious interval flurries. The album closes with the brooding epic "Dark Star" showcasing the leaderís innate compositional talent flanked by the groupís strong improvisational skills. "The Desert and the City," is an auspicious premiere and is highly recommended for fans of contemporary instrumental music. © James Scott

Michael Mucklow "Silent Voices," 2011 "Silent Voices," Michael Mucklow's 4th fingerstyle oriented CD, is very much like an audio retreat... a sonic space where serenity, introspection and quietude reign. Each tune rolls like a gentle sea with patterns that flow, evolve and create a familiarity and a sense of wholeness. "Silent Voices" is less a collection of tunes as it is musical vista that creates an ergonomic-ness in the listener. Very reminiscent of Windham Hill releases of the late 70's, Silent Voices continues the journey of Mucklow's previous CD's, but has a crispness and sense of purpose that might surprise. "Reflections" encapsulates the grandeur of these gracious grooves, while the tasteful bass work of Dean Cerny on "Floating in the Cove" ripples like the prefect lazy autumn afternoon. © James Filkins

Terry Quiett Band "Just My Luck," 2011 Terry Quiett must have been rebelling against his given surname for his entire life. Settling squarely into the power blues oeuvre that The Allman Brothers and Johnny Winter championed, his screaming guitarwork and growling vocals are anything but sedate. He gets "quiet" only on one tune on this CD, "Judgement Day," an acoustic gem wherein his impassioned vocals muster all the intensity of his take-no-prisoners electric solos. If you're physically able to pull up your lower jaw, you'll only be able to say "Wow." © Alan Fark

Hot Club of Philadelphia "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," 2011 This is a fun CD, sure to put a smile to the grumpiest of lips and a tap to the stodgiest of feet. A tribute album of sorts, it pays homage in several directions, most obviously to the Hot Club style of Django Reinhardt but also to the guitar wizardry of John Jorgenson (who also wrote the liner notes), Reinhardt's most inimitable admirer. But this isn't slavish imitation: There's only one Reinhardt composition, "Chez Jacquet," while Hot Jazz stylings enhance such classic songs as Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and Gershwin's "Someone To Watch Over Me." Barry Wahrhaftig commands lead guitar throughout, with a swinging sensibility, sprightly sound, and fast fluid playing; especially noteworthy are "La Gitane" and "Tchavolo Swing." Wahrhaftig shows a more romantic side in the lovely delicate tracings around the vocals of Phyllis Chapell on "Nuages" and the gorgeous solo instrumental that closes the CD, "While We're Young," in a Wes Montgomery arrangement. Mention must also be made of Bob Butryn's sensational clarinet on several tracks, and the soulful flamenco guitar of Carlos Rubio on "Nature Boy." © Cťline Keating

Heidi Winzinger "Honeysuckle Dream," 2010 Her effortless soprano gracefully pours over each original folk-pop song. The title cut is a sweet love song accented with a lazy violin and tasteful resonator guitar. "Iím Falling Too" uses the image of falling leaves to tell the story of falling in love. "Midway Avenue" also features lovely images, like a good movie. "Super Dog" is about a beloved pet. Stand out cut is "Yogi Momma." Whether or not you love yoga (like I do), youíll adore its bouncy beat and jazzy electric guitar. "Breathe and stretch my troubles away" she sings. Yoga does that for a lot of folks. So might her music. Namaste. © Jamie Anderson

Jeff Elstad "Eventide," 2011 Clear and crisp original guitar instrumentals. Thatís what you find on Jeff Elstadís seond release "Eventide." The 11 tracks present a relaxed palette of steel string guitar. There is no hurry or flash in Elstadís playing, just melodies that ring and linger for a second and third taste. "kindle" gets a little sassy, but doesnít leave the gentle aesthetic influencing the entire CD. "50 East" is one of the most beautiful melodies on the album; itís the kind of tune you want to listen to again and again, and if youíre a guitarist, youíll find yourself picking up your own guitar to figure out the simple melody. "nickel" picks up the tempo and passion a bit, slapping you out of the happy doldrums you encountered with the earlier material. Saxophonist Doug Kuehn joins in on "nyc," a moody missive with Elstad flatpicking throughout. "skein" cuts a nice groove. The title cut "eventide" is an aural soak on the shore of the bay as the sky reflects dusky light. Honestly, there is nothing terribly complicated or rare about these tunes -- there are hundreds of guitarists out there who can play this material. Iím just glad Jeff Elstad wrote and played them for us to hear. © Kirk Albrecht

Here's some other great music we received this month:

Brendan Devereux - Into the Orange
Fellaheen - Death & Frolic
Shelly Fraley - Into the Sun

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