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Mike Rood: The Desert And The City

Dan Bilawsky By

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The music on guitarist Mike Rood's debut recording straddles two different worlds. Sparse settings of relative quietude represent the isolation and beautiful spaciousness of the desert, while lively demonstrations of technical sophistication and motion paint a vivid picture of the non-stop energy of the city. The title of this recording points to these opposing sound locales, but it also references the origins of this music. Rood—the son of two symphonic violinists—wrote some of this music while summering in Sante Fe, New Mexico, where his parents worked with the Sante Fe Opera, and the rest of the music was born in the Big Apple, where Rood refined his playing while attending the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

Rood's musical upbringing, interest in the music of Pat Metheny and John Abercrombie, and studies with guitarists Adam Rogers and Vic Juris, all inform his own style, but none of these influences threaten to overshadow him. Each structural edifice that Rood creates is built on a different principle designed to showcase his unique guitar voice and the complementary contributions from his band.

A piece with chamber-like bookends and a more active core serves as an introduction to Rood's work ("The Desert And The City"), but each subsequent composition moves in a different direction. Wispy musical greetings serve as a prologue to chordal rhythmic gestures that underscore scintillating saxophone work from Mike Bjella on "Atonement," and pulsating guitar swells underscore a fairly loose introduction that leads to intense riffing on "The Reckoning." Peace and purity are of prime importance on "Uncertainty," which is easily one of the stand out tracks on the album, and Rood's interest in prog-rock comes to the surface on "The Gate." Rood, bassist Alex Spradling and drummer Goh Izawa engage in some devilish interplay as they create interlocking parts that move in different and surprising ways, but that's simply the leaping off point for this episodic endeavor that's driven by Izawa's dexterous drumming.

Contrast is key to the success of this music, and the pieces on The Desert And The City often differ with their tumbleweed-versus-Times Square esthetics, but all of Rood's work is brimming with thoughtfulness, sophistication and musical maturity.

Track Listing: The Desert and the City; Atonement; The Gate; Uncertainty; The Reckoning; Curious Eyes; Undeniable; Dark Star.

Personnel: Mike Rood: guitar; Alex Sprading: bass; Go Izawa: drums; Mike Bjella: saxophone.

Title: The Desert and the City | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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