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March & April 2016 Short Takes

Alki Guitar Trio "Corpus" 2015 Perhaps the title of this CD "Corpus" reflects that all the pieces played by the classical group Alki Guitar Trio are in the corpus of some of the Spain's most famous composers – Granados, De Falla, Albeniz, and Turina. Yet, these are not the most famous of their compositions, the ones we hear all the time. These three fine guitarists – Adrien Brogna, Magali Rischette, and Hughes Kelp – met at the Conservatoire Royal de Mons in Belgium while studying under maestro Odair Assad. Their arrangelemtns of these nine peices show mastery over the material, as does their controlled, sensitive, and utterly delightful playing. One of the interesting aspects of this recording is that we have 6-string, 8-stirng, and 10-string guitars played, offering a wider tonal palette than typical guitar trios. There are three pieces from the Danzas Fantisticus by Joaquin Turina – "Orgia" and "Exaltation," and "Ensueno," as well as Turina's "La Oracion Del Torero." The longest piece is Albeniz' "El Corpus Christi en Sevilla" from his Suite Iberia (perhaps this is the referent for the CD title?). They do a splendid arrangement of "Evocation" from Albeniz, the best known piece on the recording. This is a terrific offering from a talented group of young guitarists, affirming that the legacy of the early greats who developed the modern classical guitar repertoire is in fine hands. © Kirk Albrecht

Noah Zacharin "Strange Rider" 2016 Elegant, compelling arrangements and an expressive baritone voice share a starring role on this lovely album of Noah Zacharin's blues- and R&B-inflected rock. He is attracted to the pure electric tones from the Fender side of the house, whatever his amp brands may be, and slightly saturated brown tones emanate from nearly all the 10 tracks on the record. He opens with "Find My Baby" and its minor-blues verse with a swamp groove - think Sonny Landreth. The full-band sound dominates the record as he moves into "Don't Walk Away," with its pensive verse and shoo-bop (think Drifters) chorus. The B3-based, horn-laced, bluesy R&B "Gonna Drown" is one of several paeans to hard living as Zacharin delivers, "I'm gonna drown my sorrows in whiskey, gonna drown that whiskey in beer…" like he means it full-time. He wows with a Tupelo Honey-era Van Morrison-vibed thing called "A Woman's Tears" that features female back-up vocals that I think even Morrison would steal for. The thoughtful, self-aware lyrics of "Night (and There's Nothing Whole)" remind me of the writing of little-known fellow Ontarian Gregory Hoskins - and it's great to see strong writers bringing it with the lyrics. Zacharin co-produced this (his 7th) record with Douglas September, proving his love for electric guitar sounds associated with bands like NRBQ and traditions of playing the instrument that are hard to find on the radio dial today - but then again, that's why we would go out of our way to discover disks like this. © Steve Klingaman

Rupert Wates "Colorado Mornings" 2016 As a songwriter, I can tell you that the hardest songs to write are love songs because so many others have covered the same topic. In order to tug at the heartstrings, you need a refreshing take, a deft use of metaphors, and more to draw in a listener. Rupert Wates does all that. He’s a terrific songwriter – there’s a reason he’s won over thirty awards – and you’ll enjoy his warm vocals reminiscent of early Gordon Lightfoot, sparkling acoustic guitar work, and a wonderful band that showcases this collection of original love songs. Nature metaphors are common – he uses vivid images of a crisp Colorado morning or flying through a clear sky to describe a journey of love. In some songs, such as “Sundance and Etta,” there’s a clearer narrative; the gunslinger and his lady love run from town to town until they’re gunned down, still holding hands. In “Motorbike of Midnight Blue” we’re transported to Paris where the two lovers glide around the city of love on a bike. His band – keyboard, bass, light percussion -- is always complimentary, offering a variety of subtle arrangements from a Brazilian feel to pop to jazz. Stacey Lorin adds her lovely soprano to one song. Well-done album. © Jamie Anderson

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