PARADE: Guitar may be the most overrated and overexposed
instrument in the world, given its ubiquitous thrum-and-strum on
our stages, screens, CD players, iPods, et al. Below that noisy,
primal, and simplistic musical surface, however, more musically
intensive work is being done on the instrument. Next week, the
Barbara Symphony’s International Guitar Festival celebrates
guitar as a serious expressive tool, in a way never before
witnessed in this town.
Jazz guitar is one area skimpily represented in our otherwise
relatively strong live jazz scene. We’ve been lucky that mega-jazz
Metheny has chosen to frequent town lately, arriving
with his quartet at Campbell Hall a few years ago, and in a show
Mehldau next month, as well as appearances at the
Lobero with his trio and with the Gary Burton Quartet
Scofield, another guitar titan, shows up periodically
(unfortunately, his Ray Charles tribute show at the Lobero last
fall was canceled).
Otherwise, though, the vast world of jazz guitar rarely gets a
chance to shine here. Suddenly, next week, we’ll get the chance to
hear not one, but two important players — and they’re both named
Bruno, the dazzling, Philly-based, stalwart champion
of mainstream jazz guitar, plays at SOhO on Monday (Feb. 12). On his
several impressive recordings on Concord in the ’90s, Bruno
established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the special
netherworld of straight-ahead guitar: He’s nimble and inventive in
his fast bebop workouts, but also at the ready with balladic
sweetness on demand.
More significantly, Jim Hall finally makes
his way to a respectable Santa Barbara stage, in a duet next Friday
(Feb. 16) with the great bassist Dave Holland.
Hall is a highly influential player, leaving his stamp on Metheny,
for one, not to mention Bill Frisell and Scofield. Now 76, he is
going strong and more uncompromising than ever, as heard on a
series of fine recent albums — check out Magic Meeting and
Free Associations, along with his 2001 encounter with
bassists including Holland, Charlie Haden, and Christian McBride.
For all the love given him in musical circles, Hall remains
outside, a stubborn individualist who mixes traditional,
clean-toned jazz guitar with his own classical background and a
decidedly experimental instinct.
In other words, Hall is a thinking person’s guitar hero who has
no interest in spewing empty virtuosity, but who seems to embrace
his musical adventure as just that — an ever-evolving adventure,
right to the end.
Also in the guitaristic mix next week is a return visit from the
acclaimed Los Angeles Guitar
Quartet, in recital at the Lobero next Thursday (Feb.
15) and performing Rodrigo’s “Concierto Andaluz” with the S.B.
Symphony on the weekend (Feb. 17 and 18). Flamenco guitarist
Adam del Monte plays the Lobero on Tuesday (Feb. 13), and
Spanish classical guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas plays on
Wednesday, among other events (thesymphony.org).
FRINGE PRODUCT: There is Brazilian music,
seducing us with warm and undulant graces, and then there is the
“other” Brazilian music, pushing boundaries while also soothing
souls. To hear examples of both, proceed directly to the new album
Cê (Nonesuch), the latest from one of the greatest living Brazilian
musicians, Caetano Veloso.
Veloso, veteran of the sensuous revolutionary Tropicália movement
in the ’60s, has kept up his inspired balance of forward-thinking,
genre-tweaking, and lyrical energies in his music, as heard in the
1999 masterpiece Livro, as well as on Cê. The new album is
full of both Veloso’s trademark lyricism and supple vocal timbres,
but also has plenty of unexpected twists, including
Beatle-esqueries (the Beatles were big with the Tropicália bunch).
The album also gains freshness through the youthful filter of his
coproducer, son Moreno.
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