This duo continues its down-home and good timey vibeall subsidized by monster chops and acute vision. Acoustic slide guitarist Scot Ray and chromatic harmonica player Bill Barrett are recognized for their multifarious modern jazz undertakings on the Southern California scene. (Initially, Ray honed his reputation as a crack trombonist.) This third release by Gutpuppet expands the twosome's previous efforts, abetted by the adage that variety can be the spice of life. Roots-drenched, emotive and occasionally rabble-rousing, the musicians morph their jazz-based improvisational acumen into thoroughly intriguing stabs at Americana and more.
On "Hope and Despair, the artists intertwine somber themes, paralleling the song's title; Ray's weeping slide guitar lines create a sense of melodrama. But the duo injects front-porch bluegrass, jigs and recurring themes into these original compositions. They manufacture suspense, performing the melodies in unison and branching out into some heated jab-and-spar motifs. If you listen very carefully, you'll notice subliminal inferences from various genres. For example, Ray will intermittently render sweeping chord voicings via his 22-string guitar, often used for accentuation and East Indian hues.
The bluesy progressions on 3 couple with toe-tapping boogie grooves to generate gobs of excitement. The musicians' close working relationship and intuitive understanding of each other's thought processes connect mightily here. Sparks fly throughout! Zealously recommended.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.