Tag Archives: Henry Kaiser

The Montreal Mirror review by Lawrence Joseph

VARIOUS – I Never Meta Guitar (Solo Guitars for the 21st Century) (CFG 005)
What’s happening with the guitar these days? Here are 16 answers from 14 guitarists, one six-string banjo player and an electric viola da gambist. Despite the guitar’s thousand-year history, there’s still abundant room for innovation, evidenced by the diversity of approaches taken here: acoustic, electric, laptop, clean, distorted, delayed and ring-modulated, modern jazz to avant noise. Janet Feder and Nels Cline contribute full-bodied melodic picking, contrasting the frantic rushes from Scott Fields and Mick Barr. Creative fret fun curated by Elliott Sharp, who contributes one frenzied track. 9/10

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

Various Artists – I Never Meta Guitar (CFG 005)
There are no fans of the guitar in today’s creative music—they are better described as fanatics, or devotees. But then the guitar has always caused listeners to choose sides. I’m a fan of Jimmy Page and you, Pete Townshend—or do you prefer Wes Montgomery to my Jim Hall. John McLaughlin or Pete Cosey? Some of these debates have, thankfully, carried on for years.

With a new century comes new names, and allegiances are redrawn as new techniques are introduced and thankfully new sounds created. Clean Feed Records asked avant-guitar legend Elliott Sharp to curate an album of today’s guitar improvisers and technicians, some familiar names like Nels Cline, Henry Kaiser, and Noel Akchote, and others that are less well-known.

The hottest name in jazz guitar circles these days is Mary Halvorson—featured in bands led by Anthony Braxton, Tom Rainey, Taylor Ho Bynum and Tomas Fujiwara, her Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12, 2008) has been heavily celebrated by critics. Her rapid-fire note twisting has become a signature, and can be heard on “In Two Parts Missing.” The word “slippery” also applies to Finnish/American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim, perhaps known best for his Scorch Trio sound, which blends the intensity of rock with flights of free jazz. Here, he hints at the stratosphere, but contains his rock with a rolling electric viola.

Michael Gregory is the only musician here who doesn’t perform solo, his Danish trio performing a swinging blues piece. Other players add overdubs and effects to create the sense of multiple players. Chicago Underground guitarist Jeff Parker, for example, utilizes three guitars and varying effects and delays, to develop an understated and cerebral delivery of notes. Others also work with multiple instruments, such as Henry Kaiser’s five acoustic and one electric amalgamation, and Jean-François Pauvros’ extended technique for two guitars.

Then there are the simple, no-effects guitarist Scott Fields and Janet Feder, and the pure sound of Brandon Ross, with his banjo.

With I Never Meta Guitar , there are plenty of sounds to discover, from old and new favorite guitarists.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

Various Artists – I Never Met A Guitar (solo guitars for the XXI Century) (CFG 005)
The album consists of sixteen pieces, by the following musicians : Brandon Ross, Elliott Sharp, Gunnar Geisse, Henry Kaiser, Janet Feder, Jean-François Pauvros, Jeff Parker, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Mary Halvorson, Michael Gregory, Mick Barr, Mike Cooper, Nels Cline, Noel Akchote, Raoul Björkenheim, Scott Fields.

The great thing about the album is the breadth of material that Sharp put together, and the quality and variety of the pieces.

There are some real discoveries here for me : Jean-François Pauvros is absolutely brilliant, demonstrating the beauty of slowness and emotional depth of his extended techniques; Mike Cooper playing on acoustic guitar, very bluesy and sensitive,

And my favorite guitar players of the moment are excellent too on the album : Noël Akchoté playing a crisp and sweet ballad, so does Nels Cline with possibly the most jazzy piece on the album, Raoul Björkenheim showing how subtlety and rawness can be combined, Brandon Ross on his six-string banjo.

Then there are of course the guys who have barely anything to tell, or at least they play stuff that we’ve heard so often before, and that leave me quite indifferent : either the blues (Michael Gregory), avant-garde emptiness (Kazuhisa Uchihashi), high speed emptiness (Mick Barr).

For the guitar freaks, some technical detail is given too about the mics and amps and guitar-builders, but it’s all within the boundaries of acceptability.

That being said, most of the tunes are not jazz at all. Lots of new ideas and insights into modern guitar playing. Not everything works though, and that’s possibly as well.

The Stash Dauber review

Various Artists – “I Never Metaguitar – Solo Guitars for the 21st Century” (CFG 005)
Lately, I’ve been falling in love again with the sound of the guitar. It’s a little orchestra you can carry on your back; plug it in, and you can use it to generate an electronic apocalypse of sci-fi proportions. So I found the arrival of this anthology of forward-looking solo guitar performers, curated for Portuguese li’l-label-that-could Clean Feed by the innovative axe-slinger/composer Elliott Sharp, to be particularly fortuitous. After a couple of spins, I can already tell I’m going to be spending as much time with it as I have with Nels Cline’s Coward and Jeff Beck’s Emotion and Commotion.

Sucker starts off with Mary Halvorson’s “In Two Parts Missing.” Opening with crystalline-toned, two-hand-tapped fret math, Halverson electronically warps and alters her pitch to create a sense of head-spinning discombobulation, then essays some distorted flamenco chords, sounding like a cross between the Sonny Sharrock of Guitar and the Zoot Horn Rollo of “Peon” and “One Red Rose That I Mean.” I guess what I’m saying is, she covers a hell of a lot of sonic turf in just 5:29.

On “Act As If Nothing Ever Happened,” Chicagoan Jeff Parker, whose work with Tortoise I need to investigate, layers searching lines over a shifting backdrop of organ-like chords and pulsing looped scraping noises. Bay Area experimentalist and Beefheart acolyte Henry Kaiser pays a spaciously multi-tracked electro-acoustic tribute to Nels Cline. Jean-Francois Pauvros takes bowed guitar to places Jimmy Page never imagined, making it sound for all the world like a weeping cello. (Electronics are an indispensible element of these solo performances, allowing the players to sample and loop themselves to create architectonic orchestral structures.)

Boulder-based prepared guitar specialist Janet Feder creates an elegiac mood on “Heater.” Raoul Bjorkenheim somehow manages to make his axe sound like a bowed bass, a saxophone, and a flute, sometimes simultaneously. Frenchman Noel Akchote plays a conventional chord progression with a shimmering, tremelo tone, while godfather Nels Cline — who’s poised to become the SRV of experimental guitar, and I mean that in the best way — is uncharacteristically muted and Jim Hall-like. Brandon Ross plays a somber lament on banjo, with wide intervallic leaps, while Mike Cooper plays an Ornette tune on resophonic guitar with slide.

Michael Gregory, a veteran of the ’70s NYC loft scene (when he was known as Michael Gregory Jackson), contributes a mutated Steely Dan blues shuffle. It’s noteworthy that Chicago expat Scott Fields, whose previously Clean Feed release Fugu I reported on earlier this year, recorded the dense and busy improvisation “Buzkashi” totally sans F/X. The sounds on Kazuhisa Uchihashi’s “Little Creatures” are scarcely identifiable as guitar, but not in the same way as Hendrix on Are You Experienced? — rather, the randomized electronic tones recall musique concrete and Stockhausen.

Mick Barr’s “Coiled Malescence” lives up to its name; I found its knife-in-the-ear ECU single-string acrobatics tough going. Luckily, Gunnar Geisse’s “The Day Rauschenberg Met De Kooning” provides some relief with its ringing, although still un-“guitar-like” harmonics. Curator Sharp shuts things down with “Telemetry,” a complex and fast-moving piece that’s more than just an interesting diversion. Those with an ear for this kind of thing should also check out his Octal: Book Two from earlier this year.