Returning is a rare album that is remarkable for its instruments as well as its instrumentalists. Guitarist Kevin Kastning brings some of his inventions, including the 12-string extended baritone guitar and 12-string alto guitar, into play once again, on this fourth duo disc with guitarist Sándor Szabó.
A stark immediacy is present on all ten tracks, and the desolate, grey surface on the album cover is reflected in the dark, searching quality within these performances. While the idea of duo guitar pieces might bring about the assumption that one musician solos while the other is relegated to a supporting role, things aren't quite that simple here. Foreground and background ideals still come into play, but both guitar parts mesh together to make this music both whole and wholly unique. Sometimes the music plays out like incidentalbut not insignificantmusic for a compelling desert drama; think of the 2006 movie Babel, as on "Point Of Entry." The recording quality heresuperb throughoutallows every small gesture to resonate with significance, and the cleanly articulated lines from both players are always in perfect focus and balance.
Everything from Spanish-tinged sounds and vague Middle-Eastern influences to avant-garde twentieth century classical composition comes into play. Gothicin the dark and unsure sense, but not the loud, metal-leaning music wayis a word that comes to mind in certain places. Single-note lines, whether rhythmic in nature or delivered in a floating, arrhythmic manner, are key here. The occasional brittle chords or plinking harmonics set off ideas of a certain order in one place, while drab hues are at the center of the musical color scheme at other times. Once or twice, the instruments evoke different soundslike an occasional single-note sitar-sounding line, or a momentary harpsichord-like passagebut, for the most part, they retain their individualistic aural DNA throughout.
While it's hard to know whether to classify this as jazz, or what to call it at all, the debate is irrelevant. The skill involved in composing and carrying out this music on these particular axes is extraordinary, and the pictures painted are all one-of-a-kind. There's no need to waste time figuring out where composed material ends and improvisation begins. A better reason for a come back to Returning is to simply soak in the wondrous talents of these two guitarists.
Point Of Entry; Returning To A Place We've Never Been; Fourth Pleochroism; Engelschreit; Over The Hills, The Clouds Seem So Distant; Sialia Sialis; Sempiternal; In Daunsinge; Leaf Dawn Resist; Vanishing Point.
Kevin Kastning: 12-string extended baritone guitar, 6-string bass-baritone guitar, 12-string alto guitar in G; Sándor Szabó: 12-string baritone guitar.
Since 1995, shortly after the dawn of the internet, All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian Classical Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal