114

Barry Cleveland: Volcano

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Barry Cleveland: Volcano 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 Prescription of the Bedroom; Black Diamond Express; Ophidian Waves; Obsidian Night; Volcano; Rhumbatism; Dervish Circles; Dark Energy

Personnel: Barry Cleveland (electric and acoustic guitars, ebowed, bowed and biwhammered guitars, synth bass, pulse guitar, synthesizer, electric bass, vocalizer), Michael Pluznick (congas, shaker, anlungs, talking drums, bata, box drums, clavé, incidental drums, gourds, bongos, clay pot, low drum), Michael Manring (electric bass, ebowed harmonizer bass, ebowed bass), Norbert Stachel (flute, EWI, clarinet, contrabass clarinet, bass flute, alto flute, soprano, tenor and sopranino saxophones, piccolo flute), Michael Masley (bowhammer cymbalom, reed slide, Lokota slide, phenix), Lygia Ferra (voice), Arthur Hull (congas, box drums, bongos), Kim Atkinson (congas), Chris Walker (congas, bell, shaker), Maxwell Taylor (voice),

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Supersaturated Records | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Live At Umbria Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Umbria Jazz
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 10, 2016
Read "Seven Storey Mountain V" CD/LP/Track Review Seven Storey Mountain V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "City Of Poets" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Poets
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "The Caustic Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review The Caustic Ballads
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 27, 2016
Read "Happy Madness" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Madness
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Michael Gamble and The Rhythm Serenaders" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Gamble and The Rhythm Serenaders
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!