Calling guitarist Mike Rud
one of the best kept secrets on his instrument is only a bit off the mark. Rud's Notes on Montreal
(Self Produced) took home a Juno Award, after all, so his presence has most certainly been felt in his native Canada. Yet his work and name haven't traveled like they should, making a bigger mark below and beyond his homeland. Whether painting with thematic tones as a leader, serving as a sideman with pianist Peter Hum
, or going completely solo, as on the smartly dexterous Miniatures
(Bent River Records, 2016), Rud always has something important and intriguing to offer, and his music should have a greater reach. This trio-plus-guest date, pairing him with guitarist Peter Bernstein
, may help in that department.
Rud's connection to Bernstein goes all the way back to 1992, so there's real history to their friendship. In 2016, Rud finally invited his fellow guitar slinger to join him for gigs in Montreal and Ottawa. The results were wholly positive, so a year later they were at it again. Then, two years beyond that point, they took to the studio to record this gorgeous set. Working with the sterling support of bassist Alec Walkington
and drummer Dave Laing
, Rud and Bernstein complement each other in all the right ways. Opening with the chic nomadic allure of the title track, this pair caravans together across terrain marked by Laing's tom groove. Then it's off to "Petroglyph," an affable swinger in five, over to "Leonard Cohen," a glinting beauty nodding to the musical bard from Westmount, and on to "Shuffle Pants," a throwback glance at instrumental rock classed up with just the right amount of jazz verbiage.
The album's midpointor the close of Side A, for those keeping track on the vinyl frontbelongs to "Parc Lafontaine." A highlight on Notes on Montreal
, as sung by Sienna Dahlen
, and a notable presence from Miniatures
, with Rud vocalizing, the song serves as a through line connecting all three albums. Here, cast in a wistful light that mirrors the Dahlen version, it's all instrumental shadows and light at play as Rud and Bernstein work with the number's beautiful melodic embers. The album's second half, opening on the casual swing of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," offering up moonlit bossa vibes through "A Man of the World," adding a dose of connective guitar glee with the upbeat "Amsterdam Avenue," and closing on Bernstein's true-to-form "Blood Wolf Moon Blues," adds tremendous musical value to what was already shaping up to be to be a solid set.
At just around 45 minutes in length, and with top-notch performances on every track, this crew certainly leaves you wanting more. When the world safely reopens and their respective dance cards are clear, Rud and Bernstein most definitely deserve another meeting on record. If not for them, than at least for those of us listening on the outside.
Salome's Dance; Petroglyph; Leonard Cohen; Shuffle Pants; Parc Lafontaine; I'm Getting Sentimental Over
You; A Man of the World;
Amsterdam Avenue; Blood Wolf Moon Blues.