A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Upon receiving the CD, Acoustic Standards by Richard Kuncicky (pronounced kun-sis-kee) in the mail, I played it on a small, cheap stereo that I have in my den. This isn't the sound system that I typically use for serious listening, but I just wanted some background music while I went through the rest of my mail. However, upon hearing the first few notes of Kuncicky's lush arrangement of Gershwin's immortal Summertime, I was immediately struck by its sumptuous beauty; clearly evident even on my cheap, faulty system! Who is this guitarist that plays so beautifully and why hasn't his name already attained common household recognition? These are the questions that came to mind as my attention swiftly switched from my mail to the music. |
According to the CD's liner notes, Richard Kuncicky is a Florida-born self-taught guitarist; he practiced reading guitar chord diagrams from Beatle's music books in the 1960s. Over time, Rick's musical endeavors evolved into songwriting, playing jazz, bluegrass, country, and country swing. All of this, in addition to a regular gig working in a New York City recording studio, prepared Rick for realizing his dream of recording a CD of fingerstyle jazz standards. Rick recorded all selections on Acoustic Standards with a Gibson acoustic steel string guitar.
With the exception of a small handful of other players, I have never heard anyone else produce such warm, varied colors and nuances on the steel string guitar. His tone is full, sweet, bell-like: his rhythm, impeccable. His touch is exquisite and his gorgeous arrangements are lively! He conveys "it's good to be alive" feelings similar to those evoked by the sunshine of a beautiful spring day.
The well-paced tracks are imbued with a sense of spontaneity. Furthermore, unlike many jazz musicians, Rick never buries the beautiful melodies of these timeless classics in excessive harmonic or melodic meanderings. This is not to say that his playing isn't adventurous, simply that all his improvisations fit beautifully with the original melodies ...if not enhancing them! I found his interpretations of bossa nova pieces like, Black Orpheus, The Girl From Ipanema, and Wave, to be a little too fast for my taste. The result is some dilution of the rhythmic sensuality which makes the bossa nova so enticing; however, Rick redeems himself convincingly by bringing all the other aforementioned talents to these particular selections.
I have been playing this CD every day for a week and I have yet to grow tired of listening to it. I expect to be reading and hearing a lot more about Richard Kuncicky in the months and years to come. Get a copy of Acoustic Standards and you'll hear for yourself why I'm making such a big deal about this fresh, new, unique talent!