Resonance, as manifested in the new recording of the same title by guitarist John Stowell, takes two guises. First, as a talented guitar player with an impressive resume, Stowell can be counted on, nee, expected to provide interesting and compelling performances of both his original and the jazz standard repertoire. This is certainly evident in his choice of recital items. Second, Stowell teams up with the modern guitar Stradivari, Mike Doolin, who provides him with the instruments upon which to weave his special magic, including acoustic/electric six- and twelve-string guitars, plus steel- and nylon-string configurations..
Stowell wastes no time or talent getting down to business respectfully deconstructing Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss" and recasting the Coltrane blues "Equinox" in a Michael Hedges-like percussive funk mode. Not since Joe Pass has a guitarist been as capable of juxtaposing the steel versus nylon argument in performance as Stowell does here. But make no mistake -- while Stowell may be compared to Pass, he is a very different animal indeed.
Stowell likes much to play open strings, providing the effect of the sustain pedal on the piano. This is readily apparent on "How Deep is the Ocean," a standard he shares with Pass and uses to pay homage to late master. Stowell combines Pass's single line runs and upper-neck chording with his own careful use of open strings and chords, providing a full-bodied synthesis of styles. The twelve-string selections ("Equinox" and "Some Other Time") sound like a swinging Leo Kottke, with "Equinox" coming off more effectively than "Some Other Time."
The sonics are impeccable, warm, and way out front; Stowell sounds immediate, as if playing in the listener's living room. His guitar style is as impeccable as the sonics, perfectly complimenting the mood of each piece. His originals, particularly "Bolero Algorhythm," played on a steel six-string Doolin, display a Wayne Shorter-esque grasp of harmony and time. Resonance is a fine followup to Stowell's previous release, The Banff Sessions, and will appeal to jazz guitar fans.