Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

114

Barry Cleveland: Volcano

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Barry Cleveland is an associate editor of Guitar Player magazine and, as such, could easily be mistaken for being more concerned with the logistics, technical rigours and, well, guitar godhood of someone who spends a lot of time focused on the craft of the instrument, rather than its potential for musicality. And there's little doubt that Cleveland has a full command of his instrument, both as a player and a shaper of sound, utilizing all manner of processing to create sounds that are at times distinctly un-guitarlike.

But what is most revealing about his approach, as evidenced by Volcano, is that Cleveland sees the guitar more as a means to an end rather than the end itself, and that places him firmly in the ranks of players more concerned with musicality than virtuosity. While some of what Cleveland does could be called fusion, it's not the kind that one normally associates with guitar antics, lightning fast soloing, and unnecessarily complex arrangements that are more about posturing than meaning and truth.

Cleveland is clearly intrigued by rhythm and its potential to open things up for thematic exploration. While there is plenty of improvising on Volcano, it's not in the context of defined solos. Instead, by using a bevy of percussion to explore African and Afro-Haitian rhythms, mostly courtesy of Michael Pluznick, who forms the core quartet with bassist extraordinaire Michael Manring and versatile woodwind multi-instrumentalist Norbert Stachel, Cleveland is then freed to draw on other sounds, natural and otherwise, to create a world view that is far more inclusive than exclusive.

In the same way that guitarist Steve Tibbetts and percussionist Marc Anderson have created their own take on world music, arguably most successfully on the '94 ECM recording The Fall of Us All and '02's A Man About a Horse, Cleveland combines Western harmonies with those from farther afield to create an intriguing blend that can best be described by what it isn't rather than what it is. It isn't fusion per se, but it has some fusion elements, in particular some of Cleveland's guitar tones; it isn't exactly progressive, yet some of the complexities and thematic development might make it so; it isn't specifically world music although the multirhythmic approach, melodies, and some textures certainly would place it within that definition; and it isn't jazz by any stretch of the imagination, yet collective improvisation plays a large part.

So what, in the final analysis, is Volcano? It's a series of rhythm-based pieces that draw on inspirations from a multitude of sources to create a sonic landscape that becomes an entity unto itself. It's an album that leans towards Eastern harmonies and yet clearly comes from players with a Western background. And, in the end, it's an appealingly multilayered aural experience that continues to reveal new things with every listen.

Visit Barry Cleveland on the web.

Track Listing: Makanda, Tongue of Fire, Secret Prescriptions of the Bedroom, Black Diamond Express, Ophidian Waves, Obsidian Night, Volcano, Rhumbatism, Dervish Circles, Dark Energy

Personnel: Barry Cleveland, electric and acoustic guitar, Ebowed, bowed and bowhammered guitar, Vocalizer, synth bass, pulse guitar, synthesizer; Michael Pluznick, percussion; Michael Manring, electric bass, Ebowed bass; Norbert Stachel, EWI, contrabass clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax, and sopranino sax; Michael Masley, reed slide, Lokota slide, bowhammer cymbalon; Arthur Hull and Chris Walker, bells and percussion; Lygia Ferra and Maxwell Taylor, vocals.

Title: Volcano | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Supersaturated Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Disappeared Behind the Sun CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2018
Read 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert CD/LP/Track Review 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House" CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Journey to a New World" CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "The Study of Touch" CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Upright Piano - Live At Bar Moskus" CD/LP/Track Review Upright Piano - Live At Bar Moskus
by Jim Worsley
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "Serenade for Horace" CD/LP/Track Review Serenade for Horace
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 11, 2017