Out on the fringes of jazz lurks the solo electric guitar performer playing music that has been forever rejected by classical music fans. Yes, the electric guitar, which wasn’t considered a soloing instrument in jazz before Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Its status as king of rock and roll further alienates modern classical fans.
That curious outsider status makes Electric Solo! by Wiek Hijmans more of a treasured listen. Similar to Marc Ribot’s covers of John Zorn’s etudes on The Book Of Heads (Tzadik 1995), Hijmans plays scored pieces, with the exception of “Upward,” an improvised piece. This merger of classical with the seemingly pedestrian plugged–in guitar is an enlightening experience.
Covering Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and Dutch composer Michael van der Aa, Hijmans honors the composer’s directions, as on “Auburn” to play in tandem and against the simultaneously broadcast tape. It's hard to tell where the music is being made. And with “Vampry!” the musician is instructed to play loud like Carlos Santana. Hijmans obliges with what sounds from Van Halen powering the classical composition.
This is music based on classical discipline, but being played with an elementary crude instrument. Kudos to Hijmans for bringing a deft touch to the indelicate electric guitar.