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Arturo Vera / Ethan Mann: Acoustic Project

Dan Bilawsky By

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The Acoustic Project is a confluence of classical styling, Spanish-tinged songs, and improvisational elements, brought together by two men who have ample knowledge and skill in all three areas. Guitarists Ethan Mann and Arturo Vera have known each other for two decades, having connected long ago when they were both at the Manhattan School of Music, and they share a deep musical bond that is evident throughout this album.

Their journey begins with Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Aria," which marries Baroque and Brazilian qualities. They continue with Stanley Myers' "Cavatina"—best known as the theme to The Deer Hunter (1978)—giving it a bright and cheery facelift that completely transforms the nature of the song while also retaining key melodic and harmonic elements. The program continues as Vera and Mann visit the work of Antonio Carlos Jobim, choosing "Double Rainbow" over any number of Jobim's overdone classics. They also spice up Johann Sebastian Bach's "Bourrée in E Minor."

It's Chick Corea's music, however, that dominates this session and which leaves a lasting impact. Four of the eight pieces herein come from the noted pianist's pen, and this pair revels in the opportunity to live in his music: "Armando's Rhumba" is a tightly delivered, energetic affair; the infrequently covered "What Was" proves to be a nice palate cleanser between the Jobim and Bach numbers; "Spain" possesses duende in generous amounts; and "Song To The Pharaoh Kings" gives both men a chance to converse in short, traded statements.

The Acoustic Project is the type of outing that's built around stylistic continuity, not variety, and that consistency can be observed from track to track as well as player to player. While guitar enthusiasts may appreciate the opportunity to dissect the differences or similarities in each man's playing, the great joy of this record is in hearing and observing what both men create as one.

Track Listing: Aria; Cavatina; Armando's Rhumba; Double Rainbow; What Was; Bourrée In E Minor; Spain; Song To The Pharoah King.

Personnel: Arturo Vera: guitar; Ethan Mann: guitar.

Title: Acoustic Project | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced


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