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Momento Magico is a solo outing from Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius, an exploration of three acoustic instrumentssteel and nylon strung guitars and acoustic bass guitar. Wakenius undertakes this exploration across a mix of self-penned tunes and works by writers as varied as Erik Satie, Charles Trenet and Sixto Rodrigues.
Wakenius is an impressively adaptable player, who's resumé includes work with Ray Brown, Youn Sun Nah and, most famously, Oscar Peterson (The OP in "Notes For OP And Wes"). He's also the product of many diverse influences, which he acknowledges in his sleeve notes. Malian musicians such as Vieux Farka Toure ("Mali On My Mind"), instruments such as the Chinese pipa ("The Dragon") and "the beauty of France" (Trenet's "La Mer") all receive due credit.
Like many acoustic guitarists, Wakenius has a distinct left-hand squeak when sliding his fingers across the fretboard and there are times, such as on the gentle "Requiem For A Lost Son," when this extraneous noise becomes overly intrusive. It's less of an issue when Wakenius overdubs instruments or performs harder-edged tunes such as "The Dragon" or "Esperanto."
Two of the slower tunes form the high points on Momento Magico. Satie's "Gnossienne" works brilliantlyWakenius acknowledges the minimalism of the work and creates a slow, graceful, spacious interpretation (which he describes as a "semi-Bossa Nova"). Wakenius' interpretation of Magnus Ostrom's moving "Ballad For E," written in tribute to Östrom's friend and band mate Esbjorn Svensson, is sensitive to the original version and to Svensson's memory.
Track Listing: Ballad For E.; Momento Magico; Liberetto; Hindustan Blues; Requiem For A Lost Son; Mail On My Mind; Gnossienne; The Dragon; Esperanto; Preludio; Notes For OP and Wes; Sugar Man; La Mer.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.