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Sandor Szabo and Kevin Kastning - Resonance


Sandor Szabo / Kevin Kastning

Greydisc GDR 3503

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

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This disc will most definitely not be for everyone, but those for whom it has been specifically crafted will be delighted, a set of spacious, abstract, and airy penseÚs on the intelligently pastelline—albeit darkly hued—virtues of two acoustic guitars joined in structured improv dependent only upon the moody cast of the entire selection's grey shadowy flavors. Many years ago, two giants, John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, came together to create ECM's killer Sargasso Sea, and it set the standard, a highwater mark rarely attempted let alone pulled off. A lustrum beyond, they issued the return meeting, Five Years Later, to general ecstasy. Resonance is like the third meeting, this time with Towner & Abercrombie being joined by Bill Connors in his ECM heyday. That is to say: Szabo and Kastning are a good deal darker than Ralph and John had been, following Connors' Mist and Melting peregrinations.

Now, it should be known that Abercrombie & Towner cannot be surpassed, that's just the set rule, but this duo has made the finest task of it to date. Many hoped Larry Coryell might have braved the venture in his many collabs with Steve Khan, Philip Catherine, and such—somewhat as he had in earlier ensemble releases, The Restful Mind and Spaces, almost catching the quintessence but not quite —but, as thrilling as those LPs were, they weren't of the order of Sargasso Sea. Resonance, however, comes damnably, impressively close. Very satisfying, it persistently etches itself in mercurialities, evanescence, and threnody, boasting a use of baritone guitars exclusively, hand-crafted instruments yielding rich tones and meaningful shades.

It's ironic that one of the players shares a surname with a revered elder now passed on, Gabor Szabo, because the thoughtfulness and choices demonstrated by Sandor are akin to Gabor's consummate playmanship. I was fortunate to catch Gabor at Redondo Beach's long-famed Lighthouse not long before he died, apparently of complications arising from heroin addiction, and, even in the throes of his struggle with the drug, he could peel off some of the most fascinating lines amidst what had then become a descending lite jazz denouement in his career.

Fortunately for guitar romantics, Sandor possesses none of these problems and embraces what Gabor had displayed in such classics as Mizrab while pushing well beyond. This CD is an hour-long spree of slowly shifting Dantean environments and atonal wanderings in fields close by yet far from the safe pastures of urbanity. Wild is the heather here, foggy the banks, and mysteriously does the day pass in reveries and echoing tastes. Like many such releases, it works beautifully as background chiaroscuro or closely followed fare. Either mode repays the attentions given, but it is not—and I can't stress this firmly enough—of an ilk with the New Age duets the disc might initially be mistaken for (the cover is very pleasant two-toned abstract canvas). Such things are 99% milk-blooded tomfoolery, while Resonance breathes, whispers, cajoles, sulks, and hypnotizes in an extremely literate fashion. Therefore, do not send to know for whom the muttering minor chords ring, they beckon thee.

Track List:

  • Another Face of Beauty
  • The Totem, Pt. 1
  • The Totem, Pt. 2
  • Song of the Wind
  • Intense Chemistry
  • Long Tale of the Ocean
  • A Solitary Cypress
  • Two Pilgrims; One Path
  • Tanz Grotesque, No. 1
  • Tanz Grotesque, No. 2
  • Tanz Grotesque, No. 3
  • First Confluence
  • Fantasy for Door Harp
All songs written by Szabo & Kastning.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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