John Stowell

Solitary Tales

origin 82525

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide

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Recorded during a solo concert in the sound engineer's (and guitar maker's) home, Solitary Tales lets guitarist John Stowell slowly explore a range of musical ideas. The pace never gets to be too much, with Stowell rarely stepping up the tempo up beyond the leisurely. The star is always Stowell's intricate touch, pulling nuances of sound from the guitar carefully along the way. There isn't as much melody here as there is ambient background sound, but the melody does find a way in here and there. The works tend to run together, as they realistically should in a small, intimate concert such as this one, but as a result there are also few moments that really stand out from the background. A bit of extra doodling in Steve Swallow's "Willow" gives Stowell a bit more of a bubbling sound than he often uses. Perhaps more excitingly, though, a turn on an Ornette Coleman number ("Blues Connotation") gives Stowell the room to both try out some off-kilter rhythms and phrasings, and to touch upon the blues rather than the more modern (nearly smooth) jazz sound that tends to come from a nylon acoustic in the rest of the compositions. Stowell's a fine musician, but while the solo outing here highlights the nuances of his touch, it also tends to focus more on the specific momentary sounds and a general flow rather than on any full compositions. Interesting, but newcomers interested in Stowell may do better to start with a combo format (such as Scenes with John Bishop, Jeff Johnson, and Rick Mandyck).






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