While he may not be known to a broader international public, guitarist Carl Weingarten has been an active player for the past fifteen years, recording nine albums mostly for his own Multiphase Records label. As he moves forward in a career that has been compared to a diversity of artists including Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Bill Frisell, Leo Kottke, Ry Cooder and others, he takes stock of his career so far with Hand in the Sand , which serves as a comprehensive look at this intriguing player with a broad musical reach.
Weingarten, who plays a multitude of guitars but favours the Dobro, may not possess the virtuosity of, say, a Jerry Douglas, but he does demonstrate a lyrical sense and a set of musical influences that incorporate everything from ambient music to Americana. Take the title track, which begins with solo Dobro and images evocative of Ry Cooder's classic soundtrack to the film Paris, Texas , until Robin Bonnell's cello enters and creates a more chamber-like ambience. Or "Local Journeys," which, with Michael Manring's Jaco-inflected bass and Brian Knave's light-yet-insistent percussion, has the tinge of the Middle East while still feeling somehow distinctly American.
"West of Austin," with Robert Powell's pedal steel and Weingarten's Dobro and electric slide guitar comfortably supported by a piano/bass/drums rhythm section, sounds like something that could have been performed by the short-lived Jerry Douglas/Sam Bush/Béla Fleck/Edgar Meyer/Jerry Douglas supergroup Strength in Numbers. "An Early Fall," a solo piece, and "Bone Dog Blues" easily fit within Frisell's Americana universe but are less idiosyncratic.
Elsewhere in the collection Weingarten moves even farther afield. "Falling," with its looped harmonic guitar rhythm track and silky overdriven guitar, clearly comes from Fripp/Eno territory, but with a bass and percussion track, has more forward motion. "Cambodian Waltz" blends a roots-style guitar with Joe Venegoni's mbira to create an unusual cross-cultural blend. And "Illumina Suite," with its spacious ambience, clearly comes from Eno's collaborative work with pianist Harold Budd.
Weingarten manages to combine these varied influences into a conceptual whole that is linked by a rich melodicism that pervades every track, and a concise playing style that is clearly heavy on substance while not forgoing style. Included in the collection are the previously-unissued "Holograph Blues," as well as two tracks from his forthcoming release, Local Journeys , due out in the spring of '05. Hand in the Sand serves as a captivating introduction to an artist who, with an economical and almost ecumenical approach, has been creating compelling work for over a decade and is certainly deserving of a wider following.
Track Listing: Local Journeys; West of Austin; An Early Fall; Bone Dog Blues; Up the Down Slide; Falline; My Beautiful Moon; Cambodian Waltz; Illumina Suite; Dust Coves the Sky; Pedro's Lament; Holographic Blues; Come with Me; A Sacred Sleep; Red Night; Hand in the Sand
Personnel: Carl Weingarten (Dobro, slide guitars, electric slide guitar, steel guitar, effects, classical guitar, keyboard, ebow, delays, sequence) and featuring, on various tracks: Brian Knave (harmonica, percussion), Michael Manring (bass), Robert Powell (pedal steel), David Finn (piano), Joe Vengoni (mbira, percussion), Mark Epstein (bass), Walter Whitney (synthesizer), Angela Fields (cello), R. Scott Bryan (percussion), James Mayer (bass), Dan Reiter (cello), Robin Bonnell (cello), Tom Whitehead (piano), John Hanes (percussion), Kat Epple (flute), Barry Cleveland (percussion)
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.