Ya know, when I read of guys like guitarist Shan Kenner, who taught himself music theory, composition, arranging, sight reading, horn arranging, classical and flamenco techniques, modern jazz harmony, latin clave-based concepts, and God only knows what else, I wanna just spit on my own feet and give up. Good grief! But all that auto-didactry shows up in his playing and CDs, and The Behavior of Vibration is live in the studio (via ProTools), which adds yet another dimension. In the first cut alone, Thumbprints, I get direct impressions of David Pritchard, John McLaughlin, Gary Boyle, Pat Martino, and Steve Khan, this last a gent whose solo work is endlessly inventive, a trait shared by Kenner, amply shown in the CD's title cut.
The group environment is a quartet affording tons of room for each player's expressions. Darrell Green's the true rhythm section while Ryan Berg's bass work ambles about between Green's background and Kenner and Albert Marques' (piano) foregrounds. Marques is the most mobile member, sharing the spotlight with the guitarist, then dropping back towards Green, surprisingly, more than Berg. This allows his keyboard to lay out the colors and tones of the environment alongside the drummer while Berg maintains an independence more matching Kenner's.
The result is a fusion of traditional airs heavily married to modern permutations, much as the aforesaid Khan revels in and is damn near unique at, tending to the Abercrombie side of the house while Kenner's compositions are clearly rooted more in classicalism, and thus Towner-esque perhaps. I strongly suspect this comes of his independence from too heavy a reliance, ironically, on classical modes. When you work up your own chops within elder modes but outside contemporary teachers, your personal voice emerges much more strongly. There's plenty of lyrical balladry, as in Ginny, a slow and very languorously reflective pool of wistfulness, but also high-end fretmeistering and middle-ground structuralism, The Animator being perhaps the best exposition thuswise. Regardless, this is a disc that requires a listening mind just as steeped in a wide variety of approaches as the musician's.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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