Guitarist Ewan Dobson did not so much emerge from the house that Leo Kottke, John Fahey and Peter Lang built as construct his own wing and take command of it. Somewhere in that house, close to the Dobson wing, the spirit of Michael Hedges lurks, speaking from his portrait, encouraging the walls to be more percussive in their guitar playing. The Canadian Dobson is the evolutionary manifestation of all virtuoso acoustic guitarists who came before him. Rightly, Paganini looms large in the mind of Dobson. He plays several Paganini-inspired pieces on Ewan Dobson III, material amply capable of allowing the guitarists to demonstrate his chops.
It is not a chops-praising piece that illuminates Dobson's talent but rather a simple spiritual by a modern master, Leonard Cohen. "Hallelujah," sung lackadaisically by the composer, put the melancholy and doomed Jeff Buckley on the map. Dobson plays "Hallelujah" with a certain reverence that summons all of the history that went into composing the song. Dobson finds all of Cohen's weak spots, touching them with careful grace so not to wake the beast, but only to understand him. Dobson does the same with the traditional "Near My God to Thee." This is no mere novelty playing. It is meaningful and illusory.
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.