Nicolas Meier World Group — Peaceful
(MGP Records CD022, 2019, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-09-21
Nicolas Meier is an immensely capable Swiss-born and British-based guitarist and composer who works in many styles in quartets, trios, duos, solo, as well as other configurations, and has appeared with Jeff Beck on both studio albums and live. In general, his versatility is amazing and never fails to surprise, though he is generally considered to be a jazz guitarist, and here on Peaceful, he has taken that a step further into the realm of world jazz. The album’s nine instrumental tracks take the listener on a pan-Mediterranean cruise of sorts, stopping at various points of interest, absorbing the local flavors. Produced with his old friend Pete Oxley, with whom Meier has worked many times before, the quartet includes Meier on nylon-string fretted and fretless guitars, and twelve-string, violinist Richard Jones, bassist Kevin Glasgow, and percussionist Demi Garcia. Meier, with his jazzy tendencies and Jones in the lineup might invite comparisons to Django Rinehart and Stéphane Grapelli at certain odd moments, but what they are doing both in the compositions (all by Meier) and arrangements are uniquely their own. Very impressive is Meier’s fretless work on tracks like “Caravan of Anatolia” that gives his playing a unique sound, much like an oud, that drives its openly Turkish flavor. The fretless is used again on the beautifully melodic “Princes’ Islands” in a more relaxed and mellow approach, with the violin taking its turn in the solo spot as well. The vivid opener “Besiktas Cafe” is a gentle but upbeat piece that truly invites the listener into the scene where the whole group is playing at your table. “City of the Three Rivers” is a flamenco-flavored piece that covers plenty of territory across its seven-and-a-half minute duration, shifting colors and hues and moods as it proceeds onwards. “The Island” that follows it again makes mysterious and powerful melodic colors again with the tasteful use of fretless. The upbeat fountain of rhythmic and tasteful melodic passion works throughout the seven minute “Manzanita Samba” offering everyone in the group to show their best. All taken, Peaceful is a spirited and joyful travelog that delivers on many levels.
Related artist(s): Nicolas Meier
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.