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Garrison Fewell/ Eric Hofbauer: The Lady of Khartoum

Mark F. Turner By

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It's best to throw out any preconceived notions of the "guitar duo" before listening to The Lady Of Khartoum CD by composers/guitarists Garrison Fewell and Eric Hofbauer. These fifteen, mostly short snippets, are aural conversations that transcend the common conventions of typical fret-board picking melodies. Both performers have works that have spanned genres from mainstream to experimental. But this is something altogether different.

Like conversations between two distant friends, the dialogs of these skilled improvisers speak of familiar and unfamiliar territories that are at many times intriguing and trans-cultural. The opening dissonant plucks heard on the "Prologue: Before the Dream," the gut-bucket blues in "Dogon Delta Blues," or the rural patchwork of the title selection, all suggest locales that are at once foreign and native.

Unusual sound manipulations are heard throughout—detuned/muted strings, bells, and other natural effects are all a part of the duo's sonic repertoire. "A Bourbour's Spell" contains Fewell's wailing slide guitar and percussion, while "A Cajun Raven" is a quirky little number that comes straight from the heart of some sweltering bayou. Each, like many of the other tunes, is filled with atmosphere and personality.

Some nice swing is heard on Thelonious Monk's "Let's Cool One," the very hip Fewell piece "We Need Your Number" and the stunted "Back Yard Free Bop." The recording ends with its longest and most emotive number, "Farsighted Friendship," a fitting conclusion to a memorable work of creativity.

Track Listing: Prologue: Before the Dream; The Lady of Khartoum; Dogon Delta Blues; Comfort for an Affliction; Devil at the Salang Pass, Ma

Personnel: Garrison Fewell: guitar, slide, sticks, bells, percussion; Eric Hofbauer: guitar, metal box, sticks percussion.

Title: The Lady of Khartoum | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Creative Nation Music


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