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Joel Harrison — Guitar Talk
(Bandcamp AGS no#, 2021, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-07-07

Guitar Talk Cover art

Guitar Talk is one of the first releases on the AGS Recordings label, the other being Anthony Pirog’s In Side. As for the label itself, AGS stands for Alternative Guitar Summit, and the eleven instrumental tracks herein present mostly duets featuring Harrison and other world class guitarists; the opening track “It Falls on You” is a trio with Steve Cardenas and Ben Monder, and the two closing tracks, Ellington’s “Reflections in D” and “America the Beautiful” are solo pieces. Harrison’s recent release America at War (2020) was a project that featured nearly 20 musicians, and his previous Still Point: Turning World featured half that many, so the idea here was to do the opposite, keeping it as simple as possible, yet stunning, a collection of shorter, quieter jazz pieces featuring only electric guitars. Aside from Cardenas and Monder, who also appear on several other tracks in duo configuration, the set also features guitarists Pete McCann and David Gilmore, and bassist Steve Swallow, each of the duets having its own unique character, filled with intimacy and emotion, each a collection of surprisingly powerful melodies and harmonies, with a nearly endless supply of warmth and beauty, a sublime set that a listener will want to repeat over and over. This might be a good time to mention that Harrison concurrently has a 300 page book available from Terra Nova Press titled Guitar Talk: Conversations with Visionary Players which includes Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, Fred Frith, Mary Halvorson, Vernon Reid, Dave Fiuczynski, Anthony Pirog, Michael Gregory Jackson, Elliot Sharp, Henry Kaiser, Rez Abbasi, Nguyen Le, and at least a dozen more. But back to the Guitar Talk disc for a moment, it’s hard to imagine how any guitarist, or a player of any stringed instrument for that matter, wouldn’t find the eleven gorgeous melodic pieces herein absolutely compelling.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Joel Harrison, Steve Swallow

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