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November & December 2014 Short Takes

Eos Guitar Quartet "Jürg Kindle - The Guitar Quartets," 2014 Precise fretwork and crystalline notes result in a delightful musical Esprit de corps on the Eos Guitar Quartet "Jürg Kindle - The Guitar Quartets." These Jürg Kindle compositions go as far back as 1995 with "Kalimba" an intoxicating percussive piece that imitates the sound of the instrument it is named for in a rather ingenious manner. The compositions of this CD are diverse, ranging from the apt titles "Tangolibre" to five compositions categorized as "pop", which allow the Eos Guitar Quartet to dig into grooves that emulate everything from pulsating techno to lush "Lounge Guitar". Lest you become too complacent these fret acrobats fall into a hip-hop groove and roll right into the rhythmically "Drum & Bass" before getting down with the equally rhythmic "Funky". That's right, funk, hip-hop and tango, Oh my! Dorothy is no longer in Kansas, that is certain. "Jürg Kindle - The Guitar Quartets" is my introduction to the Eos Guitar Quartet and it has left me in awe of their sublime talents. © James Filkins

Ben Rabb "Until It's Gone," 2014 ‘Twas a wonderful era when folk singers migrated to New York City to seek fame and fortune, however times have changed since Greenwich Village was an affordable hub for aspiring bards, writers, and artists. Enter young Ben Rabb who follows in their hallowed footsteps, albeit a few generations late. Rabb’s confessional, self exploratory six-track song cycle would have fit nicely in that aforementioned age – especially the topical “Take My Hand” – a stirring dirge inspired by the recent Syrian civil war. With a preference for minor key melodies, Rabb deftly details the ups and downs of modern life and in the big city with a keen romantic libretto. His vocal melodies brilliantly traverse the spare yet captivating arrangements – kudos to producer Mike Davidson who worked similar magic with Regina Spektor, St. Vincent, and Jose Gonzalez. And his acoustic guitar playing and tone are exemplary. If only New York City would pay more attention to artists such as Ben Rabb as opposed to Wall Street…. © Tom Semioli

Derek Coombs "Say it Out," 2014 This impressive selection of 15 original songs by master guitarist Coombs is like an All-Occasion Gift Basket - it's chock full of treats, and there's something for every taste. There is Henry Mancini-style pop, exquisite ballads ("Sustain Me"), jazzy-inspired ("Felicity"), percussive moody standouts ("Nowhere to Run," "In the Mists of Time") and funky Brazilian jazz ("Bossame"), one of the strongest on the album. It's clear that Coombs played classical guitar for over three decades before trying his hand at fingerstyle and composing- nothing less could result in the gorgeous and impossible scales, respectively, of "Black Feather" and "The Stone Skipper." The album ends with the soulful "Where to?" Listeners will hope the answer is, "More!" © Céline Keating

Donovan Raitt "Pursuing the Horizon," 2014 Some people may think "worship leaders" can barely strum a few chords. Listening to Donovan Raitt's new guitar CD "Pursuing the Horizon" would quickly dispel that myth. As Director of Music at Aliso Creek Presbyterian Church in California, Raitt holds a bachelors in guitar performance from USC and a masters in jazz studies from Cal State Long Beach; he is a player! This CD is full of catchy grooves, clean playing, and sophisticated fingerstyle excellence. Employing altered tunings, Raitt creates aural textures that give voice to an inner vision of life. "Daybreak" is almost minimalist in approach yet fills with light and nuanced movement. "Perpetual Motion" also shows minimalist influences. "Learning to Dance" gracefully swirls and twists. "A Moment in Time" is reflective os something significant with increasing power as the song develops. The title cut "Pursuing the Horizon" finds Raitt using harmonics, chords, tapping, percussive slaps and single note runs to weave in intricate tapestry moving in a linear direction. This is a really nice CD of modern fingerstyle guitar music by a man who knows how to play. Good listening for a long drive or quiet afternoon watching time slip by. © Kirk Albrecht

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

Paul Chasman - There's an Elephant in my Room
Eric Kamen - Serenades
Heather Kropf - Chrysalis
Jane Thomason - September Road

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