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Thursday, December 17, 2009

A couple of stocking stuffers for the guitarist on your list.

There are a couple of guitar-oriented albums that I come back to time and again which I would consider essential for any guitarist's collection. There are guitarists who are well-rounded with their own unique styles and exhibit total mastery of their instruments. These aren't "shred" albums, but they are the result of people who have studied their craft and practiced endlessly and the results are timeless and always keep my attention:

Joel Hoekstra - Undefined and The Moon Is Falling: Joel assembled a great cast for these albums, with Virgil Donati on drums and and bass by Ric Fierabracci. Joel covers a wide range of styles throughout both albums with a reserved flair. The songs are well crafted and Joel lets it rip unabashadly at times. Other times he has a sense of humor. I'd have a hard time choosing between these two CDs. Undefined is a little "lighter" and more diverse, while The Moon Is Falling is a bit more thematic and stylized.

Brett Garsed - Big Sky: Brett has played with more artists and bands than I care to count, but he has only put out one solo album. It's interesting that this album also has Ric Fierabracci on bass. Every note on the album seems well thought out and perfectly placed. "Brothers" in my opinion is one of the best songs written recently for guitar. There's a emphasis on dissonance and resolution that shows how good songs are crafted. Brett is the guitarist's guitarist.

Cosmosquad-Squadrophenia: Jeff Kollman plays guitar and he shows on this CD that he's one of the finest guitarists on the planet today. While Brett Garsed and Joel Hoekstra are smooth and refined, Kollman is more gritty and biting and makes me think at times he is some strange homunculus of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I love Kollman's guitar tone on this CD. Add Shane Gaalaas on drums and Barry Sparks on bass and you have the perfect power trio.

Tak Matsumoto-Hana: Most people outside of Japan have never heard of him, but the truth is he has over 10 solo albums and he plays in the band B'z which a very popular band there (according to wiki they have sold over 78 million records in Japan). I have not listened to all of his solo CDs, but I love Hana and heard from a colleague who has heard them all that Hana is his best solo CD. What's great about this album is it's so different. There are lots of Eastern-sounding melidies combined with a more traditional Western-sounding solo album. Tak is not one to play flashy on this CD. What you get is a beautifully written set of songs. There's also a really great rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" on the album.


guitarsean said...

I agree! Please send cd's to Sean's Stocking, c/o Mr. S. Claus...

mancai said...

i love jimi hendix