David Becker's previous release, Euroland, was a multitracked affair where Becker himself played all the instruments to produce a layered sound that evoked different images through music.
On The Color of Sound, Becker plays duos with his mentor, Joe Diorio. For the most part, they both play standard electric guitar, but Becker throws in some synthesizer, a "tabla" guitar (a guitar with a playing card woven between the strings, plus an acoustic pickup to produce a pitched percussive sound), and a nine-string acoustic guitar (an open-tuned acoustic twelve-string with only nine strings). The two players perform live on the recording, except for some overdubbing of strings on "The Color of Sound" and "In A Minute," the sitar sound on "Reflections Of India," and brushes by Bruce Becker on the intro "Blues For Brother Bru."
In terms of actual guitar sound, the two players are similar, using "hot" pickups with a bit of drive and reverb that allows one to hear the pick touch the string. Stylistically Becker and Diorio are clearly related, as expected, and their music has an abstract quality marked by unique chord voicings and lines that are often miles away from standard boppish guitar.
In the arrangements, Becker and Diorio have taken great care to maintain a distance from each other, so as to always present a clear picture to the listener. They stay out of each other's way and use different parts of the guitar's range. Also, Becker keeps to the left channel and Diorio to the right.
The tracks include a very nice mix of standards, Becker compositions, and extemporaneous compositionsa bit of something for everyone. On the standards, the emphasis is many times on the give and take of ideas, rather than merely trading places soloing and comping, thus providing much fascinating listening. The soloing does allow the listener to get a glimpse into each player's mind as they constantly flirt with the melody as well as the changes.
Becker states that the compositions he brought were written with Diorio in mind. "The Color of Sound" is a beautiful ballad, full of emotion, while "Waltz for Lavignia" has fun with the 3/4 time as it dances and swings.
On the five fully improvised tracks the degree of musical ESP can be heard, along with the most "modern" playing and stretching out. On these tracks, Becker and Diorio embark on a number of musical expeditions into different colors of sound and manage to create coherent, albeit abstract music that is a joy to listen to. The Color of Sound is a very fine record that should appeal to more than just guitarists. Becker and Diorio clearly had fun in the studio, and the fact that Becker could finally record with his mentor inspired him greatly. If you don't know these players, this release might make you look into their catalogues.
Track Listing: Blues Fror Brother Bru; Beautiful Love; Waltz For Lavignia; Dance Of The Inner Valley; All The Things You Are; How Old Are You?; The Color of Sound; Reflections Of India; Stella By Starlight; How Old Do I Look?; Summertime; In A Minute.
Personnel: David Becker: electric guitar, tabla guitar, nine-string guitar, synthesizer; Joe Diorio: electric guitar