A guitar player of consummate grace and agility, Duane Andrews is also extraordinarily perspicacious in choosing material to cover, fidelitous to a selection of originals while laying down the shine and polish in interpretations that will enthrall even those long accustomed to hot jazz and its sister modes. Take, for instance, Django Reinhardt's Blue Drag, where the Atlantic String Quartet first announces itself in Elliott Carter-ish fashion, next via sensitively hushed tones, and then goes voice-normal for contrast, Patrick Boyle's slinkily wah'ed trumpet all the while sassy and dreamy-lidded above it.
The star, though, is obviously Andrews, and the third cut, Indifference most loudly hails his unbelievably nimble fingers in complex and sometimes antiphonal leads while trading off swift chordal strums as punctuation. Steve Hussey backs him on rhythm strings, filling out the axe sound appreciably, keeping the pace and ambience. Andrews, however, is a redoubtable master fully the measure of any player you'd care to name, Raindrops* a reliquary constantly updating itself in the gentleman's time-spanning hands reaching first back to tradition, then to Reinhardt, then Mingus, later Schoenberg and the anti-dodecaphonic crowd that rose in response, and finally purely in sheer presence and unbelievable insight.
This is a CD of guitar music of an entirely different order and, as such, should actually be looked upon as descended from John McLaughlin's My Goal's Beyond era, Nels Cline's Silencer, Leo Kottke's early and mid-periods, and a small catalogue of releases so transcending genre norms that they reinvigorated the very idea of what it means to play the instrument. Thus, don't expect a restatement of the hallowed styles from those just-cited marvels but rather the exact sort of spirit that jumped modes in order to reach for a synthesis normally impossible to mere mortals. Like McLaughlin and Cline's jazz-rock-based work and Kottke's Americana mutations, Raindrops is deceptively brilliant.
And as rosettes to the icing on this delicious cake, Andrews' arrangements are breathtaking in and of themselves, subtle to a fault, but I suspect it will be a long time before my oft tin-eared colleagues of the pen and quill will recognize this CD for the classic it truly is. I hope I'm wrong.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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