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Gutpuppet: II (2005)

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Gutpuppet: II How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

On paper, it would seem rather unlikely that a world-class modern jazz trombonist would double as a badass Dobro slide guitarist. But with this effort, Scot Ray lays down his horn to strum, slide, and pick alongside improvising chromatic harmonica ace Bill Barrett.

There's a lot to dig about the duo's second release, as the artists' closed-knit improvisations are engineered upon folksy themes and a predominately, wide-open layout. They mix Delta blues, folk, and Civil War era slants into off-kilter boogie grooves and jazzy progressions, spiced up with keenly executed improvisations. Yet, one of the most charming aspects of this affair pertains to the musicians' energized display of wit and savvy. Topped off with cheery, groove-based romps and razor-sharp unison runs, the twosome also pursues North African motifs, among other stylizations.

Ray and Barrett transmit elements of self-assurance amid a few eccentric deviations, such as homespun, speckled exchanges. On "Puppetology, they elongate notes amid circular phrasings and inquisitive trade-offs. By and large, Ray and Barrett manage to circumvent any notions of austere headiness as they fruitfully elevate roots-inspired thematic forays into boundless frontiers for the mind's eye.

Track Listing: Ballad of the Skinbag; Blue Highway $; Circus of Certain Death; Down in Greece; Florida Room; Gleebops; Homecoming; Mountain White Cloud; Petite Noir; Puppetology; Sake Creek; Super Moth; Swami Bob.

Personnel: Scot Ray: Dobro slide guitar, slide banjo, twelve-string guitar, gobijen; Bill Barrett: chromatic harmonica.

Record Label: Woetone Records

Style: Beyond Jazz


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