Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ralph Maier, Bill Frisell, Eric Whitacre

Beethoven's Breakfast airs at 6:30 am PDT Mondays at

Ralph Maier: Fastasias 13, 10, and 3 by Luys de Narvaez, from Art of Vihuela (Ind.)

We have an annual classical guitar festival here in Nelson, B.C.

The Northwest Guitar Festival, organized by the classical guitarist Alan Rinehart, has many guest artists this year from all over including Ralph Maier from Calgary who has made this album playing the vihuela, which is a precursor to the classical guitar with 12 paired strings and a more lute-like sound than a guitar.

Bill Frisell: Shenendoah, So Lonesome I Could Cry, Wildwood Flower, and Slow Dance from The Best of Bill Frisell Vol 1, Folksongs (Nonesuch)

Stephen Fearing and I, sometime in the early 1980s I think it was, went to hear a solo concert by Bill Frisell in Vancouver before most people had ever heard of him. Here was this studious-looking young man with a couple of guitars and some electronic gadgetry. He played compositions/improvs that used delays and loops in a way neither of us had seen before , constructing little edifices that seemed about to collapse around him at any moment, but instead they miraculously hung together, stumbling brilliantly along in their own bent and hilarious sort of way.

The rest is history, or more specifically a new turn in the history of jazz guitar and in the deconstruction of music categories.

Playing folky stuff is one of many of Frisell's guitar occupations and in fact it is my least favourite. The fact that it is still more beautiful and surprising for me than most music out there is some indication of how much I love his mainstream jazz, his out-there jazz, and his blues music. For a little revelation about Bill Frisell the player of noisy, distorted blues guitar, get his early album Before We Were Born.

Eric Whitacre: I Hide Myself, I Will Wade Out, Cloudburst, and Lux Aurumque, from Cloudburst, performed by Polyphony directed by Stephen Layton (Hyperion)

This CD contains poems by Octavio Paz, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Lorca, ee cummings, and others translated into choral music by Eric Whitacre.

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