The 11 years covered in this first of two Don Gibson retrospectives by the German Bear Family label are the most captivating in his career.
Gary Lucas – charmingly oddball pop songwriter, musical world traveler, utterly hellacious guitarist – is perhaps at his most hellaciously, charmingly cosmopolitan on this frankly amazing album, which finds him adapting popular Chinese songs that were originally recorded in the 1960s and which he heard and fell in love with during a sojourn in Taiwan in the mid-'70s. His girlfriend at the time had a cassette tape of such local superstars as Chow Hsuan and Bai Kwong, and it was, he says in his liner notes, "like almost no other music I had ever heard before." Twenty-five years later he put together this quirkily gorgeous tribute, which includes jaw-droppingly virtuosic fingerstyle guitar arrangements ("Mad World," "Wall") and song settings using guest vocalists. Among the best of the latter are the limpidly beautiful "Night in Shanghai" (again, note the guitar playing) and the country-flavored "I Wait for Your Return," which is simply a hoot. He's not playing this stuff for laughs, though; his genuine affection for the music comes through loud and clear, and even when he has fun with it he is obviously trying to do so in a way that brings its haunting loveliness to the fore. Very highly recommended.
Blues Alive is a live album by Irish guitarist Gary Moore, released in 1993. It is a collection of recordings taken from his 1992 tour and draws most of its material from Moore's then-recent Still Got The Blues and After Hours albums. The Japanese Limited Edition includes a bonus CD single.
Gary Moore's tribute to Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green, Blues for Greeny, is more of a showcase for Moore's skills than Green's songwriting. After all, Green was more famous for his technique than his writing. Consequently, Moore uses Green's songs as a starting point, taking them into new territory with his own style. And Moore positively burns throughout Blues for Greeny, tearing off licks with ferocious intensity. If anything, the album proves that Moore is at his best when interpreting other people's material – it easily ranks as one of his finest albums.
Not wanting to leave a good thing behind, Moore reprises Still Got the Blues on its follow-up, After Hours. While his playing is just as impressive, the album feels a little calculated. Nevertheless, Moore's gutsy, impassioned playing makes the similarity easy to ignore.
Once Gary Burton retired from his duties at Berklee, he began to scale back his touring with a full-time quartet. In 2010, he assembled a new band with the phenomenal young guitarist Julian Lage (who first sat in with the vibraphonist at the age of 12), veteran bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Antonio Sanchez, all of whom have recorded as bandleaders themselves. Six of the CD's ten tracks were contributed by the quartet's members, starting with Colley's intricate "Never the Same Way," which incorporates a Latin flavor in its tricky 7/4 meter. Sanchez contributed the infectious cooker "Common Ground" (featuring great solos all around and capturing the spirit of Burton's earlier quartets), and "Did You Get It?" a lively blues with a playful call-and-response between Lage and Burton in its introduction.
This abstract quartet recording by bassist Gary Peacock features Jan Garbarek on tenor and soprano saxes, Tomasz Stanko on trumpet, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. The interplay between Peacock and DeJohnette, captured roughly two years before the release of the first Keith Jarrett standards record, is especially interesting. One only wishes the horns weren't so tinny. Highlights include the freebopping "Moor" (a piece that dates back to the early '60s), the lyrical "Ode for Tomten," and the chill-inducing "Voice From the Past."
As a leader, saxophonist and composer Gary Thomas is wildly ambitious. Throughout the 1980s and into the '90s, Thomas experimented with everything from free jazz and funk to heavy metal and hip-hop. Exile's Gate is another such exercise. There are two distinct bands accompanying him here. One is made up of Thomas on tenor with drummer Jack DeJohnette and guitarist Paul Bollenback with organist Tim Murphy and bassist Ed Howard. The other features the latter two musicians, Marvin Sewell on guitar and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. The first band plays Thomas' free-spirited and aggressive originals while the second plays standards for the most part. Only Thomas would think of putting the two approaches together on one record on alternate cuts.