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String Theory 2013: Mark Kleinhaut & Hristo Vitchev

By Published: February 2, 2013
Six strings or seven...twelve frets give or take a couple. That is what the guitar is. Mark Kleinhaut and Hristo Vitchev are two guitarists whose vision expands the role of the guitar in both composition and improvisation. They explore, Kleinhaut with immediate improvisation and Vitchev with directed performance, the length and breadth of guitar playing with no regard to genre or the passage of time.

Mark Kleinhaut & Neil Lamb
Jones Street
Invisible Music
2013

Guitarists Mark Kleinhaut and Neil Lamn join forces for a an original composition collection that is soundly pastoral. The duet Jones Street holds close the composition-in-the-moment spirit of jazz in ten genre-less selections that the guitarists spontaneously spun out while on vacation in Savannah, Georgia far from their Maine homes. The titles of the selections are taken from street names and landmarks in the greater Savannah area that served as inspiration for the spontaneous creation of Jones Street.

Kleinhaut plays his Ribbecke Halfling out of the left channel while Lamb picks his Benedetto Bravo seven string out of the right. The pair amazes with a super telepathic empathy that is equal parts friendship and prudent editing. Recorded on a laptop with direct boxes, the music on Jones Street was originally not intended for release. The two simply jammed extensively with Lamb sending Kleinhaut rough tapes several months later. However, the amount of music available was not enough for a full-length disc. The two guitarists agreed to meet and record some additional music, learning that it was much harder when planned than when recorded spontaneously.

The result is ten impressionistic tone poems possessing at once the mossy texture of Spring and the pungent tactile impression of Fall. This is not exactly jazz, but it is not exactly jazz either. The two guitarists play off of one another, employing a shared experience and knowledge that allowed them to summon the spirit of the American West ("City Market") and the old South ("Up River"). Jones Street documents two accomplished guitar players having an intimate conversation with not one word spoken.

Hristo Vitchev Quartet
Familiar Fields
First Orbit Sounds
2013

Bulgarian guitarist Hristo Vitchev shares with Kleinhaut and Lamb a love for the original composition. Familiar Fields is his sixth release as a leader, all on First Orbit Sounds, following his duet with clarinetist Liubomir Krastev Rhodopa (2012); his duet with pianist Weber Iago, Heartmony (2012); with his quintet on The Perperikon Suite (2011); his first duet with Weber Iago The Secret of an Angel (2009) and with his quartet on Song For Messambria (2009).

Vitchev favors delicately complex melodies for jumping off points of his more exploratory ruminations. The guitarist has no more empathic partner than the turbaned pianist Weber Iago. The two make facile, even ethereal music that is integrally unified with soft edges. On Familiar Fields, Vitchev returns to the quartet format for a moody recital of nine original pieces that show a certain evolution in Vitchev's creative direction, one that blurs chordal and harmonic changes. Of note is his two-part mini-suite that titles the recording. Intricately arranged, managing tempo and time changes, Vitchev spins a new kind of music, somewhere where jazz meets ambient, giving the latter a reason to live, all organically acoustic.


Tracks and Personnel

Jones Street

Tracks Listing: City Market; Street Fair; Bull St. Scramble; Trickster; Sevaan; Guitar Bar; Up River; Twilight Garden; Tybee at Dawn; Ghost Tour.

Personnel: Mark Kleinhaut: guitar; Neil Lamb: guitar.

Familiar Fields

Track Listing: Ballad For The Fallen; Wounded By A Poisoned Arrow; The Prophet's Daughter; They Are No More; Familiar Fields Pt. 1 (Departure); Familiar Fields Pt. 2 (Return); The Mask Of Agamemnon; The Fifth Season; Willing To Live.

Personnel: Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Weber Iago; Dan Robbins: bass; Mike Shannon: drums.


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