Modern Jazz Guitar: Vol.19: Acoustic Guitar and The Compass, Log and Lead
Frith, Wishart, Kihlstedt
A guitarist's scraping, tapping, twisting and tweaking the strings of the instrument is commonly called "extended technique . Musicians who focus on improvisation are expected to have a wide range of these techniques. Nearly all of them do, while a few seem to have devoted themselves almost exclusively to them. Then there are improvisers who utilize these extracurricular activites sparingly, avoiding the risk of overdoing it. A recent pair of recordings represents both camps aptly.
Barry Chabala scrapes and taps and a lot more with total commitment on Acoustic Guitar. An admitted disciple of the late legend Derek Bailey, who set the standard for this kind of guitar playing, Chabala very rarely plays ordinary notes. Compositionally, the pieces come off more as forays into various possibilities of sound on the instrument, not as attempts to construct cohesive musical statements. The recording may be most valuable as a documentation of his findings than as ordinary listening material for all but a devoted few. This recording has been issued by the scrappy, musicianrun Sachimay Interventions, which sells its wares for only three bucks - a small price to pay to hear a recent example of Bailey's impact on guitar improvisation.
It seems some scholars have been at work for years compiling a Fred Frith discography, with over 300 entries currently and counting. They'd better stay alert. The superb, nearly peerless Frith stays busy expanding this list. Here, extended technique is judiciously applied and the pleasantly eccentric instrumentation and highly musical playing result in an imminently listenable record. Frith plays acoustic guitar, lowry organ and violin on one track. Stevie Wishart and Carla Kihlstedt ably contribute on instruments as familiar as violin and as exotic as nyckelharpa and hurdy-gurdy. The music comes off sounding vaguely ethnic, but a careful listen frustrates categorization attempts. The attack is gentle and the pieces, though completely improvised, move with pleasing fluidlity. The artists seem to be working together telepathically with the goal, which has been achieved, of making appealingly concordant music.
Tracks and Personnel
Vol.19: Acoustic Guitar
Tracks: DB1; DB2; M; From Guitar.
Personnel: Barry Chabala: acoustic guitar.
The Compass, Log and Lead
Personnel: Fred Frith: acoustic guitar, lowry organ, violin; Carla Kihlstedt: violin, nyckelharpa; Stevie Wishart: hurdy-gurdy, electronics, violin.