Tag Archives: Jack Rose

Review : Yair Yona “World Behind Curtains” LP/CD (Strange Attractors Audio House, 2012)

Yair_WorldWorld Behind Curtains is the second album by Israeli guitarist and composer Yair Yona. His debut effort, Remember, was a charming nod to the work of American pickers like Glenn Jones and the late Jack Rose, with Yona building on those guitarists’ post-Takoma palette with a few indie rock touches and some ensemble playing to fill out the sound. Well if Remember sounded full, World Behind Curtains is bursting at the seams! Throughout the disc, Yona’s fiery acoustic fingerpicking is augmented by lush orchestration and carefully arranged instrumental interplay, ranging from the tender, to the sinister, to the ambitiously cinematic.

The tender: First single “It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Humidity” finds Yona in Bert Jansch mode, and the guitarist says that the track was inspired by Jansch’s 1979 masterpiece Avocet. It’s not hard to make that comparison, especially at the beginning of the track where Yona dances around the chord roots, sprinkling in some modal ornamentation and basically nailing Bert’s thumb-picked sound. When Yona is accompanied by Shira Shaked on piano, though, the piece really begins to soar… and when the two players are joined by a chorus of strings, “It’s Not The Heat…” sounds like nothing less than a full-on, big-budget Joe Boyd production. It’s a striking step forward for Yona.

The sinister: There is a foreboding quality to opener “Expatriates”, one that seems to echo the tension that is ever-building in Yona’s part of the world. As the track goes on, the twelve-string acoustic is swallowed up by caterwauling electric guitar noise, and this howling, haunted atmosphere reminds me of Japanese psych-rock heroes Ghost. Later in the disc, “Mad About You” comes out of the gate with tightly wound, energetic strumming before retreating to it’s moody main body, which gradually builds in intensity, picking up speed and eventually unfurling into an insane courting dance. The orchestral players are the stars in this song, and though Yona’s guitar ties the whole thing together, it’s their instrumental filigree that propels the track. Erek Kariel contributed the ambitious arrangements on this tune. Continue reading

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Interview : David Surette

davidsurette3Earlier this year, Work & Worry received a CD from David Surette, a fantastic instrumentalist and songwriter who resides up in Maine. Surette is my kind of picker : equal parts British folk revival, country blues, ragtime and traditional… well, that’s not totally true, his playing at times actually leans a little bit more to the British school than most American fingerpickers, which I guess is what I really love about it!

The performances on Sun Dog, all done in a single evening on a single microphone, are absolutely impeccable. All eight tracks feature clean, confident picking and a finely honed sense of composition, structure and ornamentation. It’s the kind of accomplished, out of nowhere record that is not only a joy to listen to, but makes a guitarist want to up his or her game… from the John Renbourn-esque “A Lot of Sir John” and “Cold Rain” to the feel-good raggin’ blues of “Frog’s Legs” and “Ukelele Stomp”,  Sun Dog is easily one of the best guitar recordings I’ve heard in a long time.

Surette’s liner notes on the CD do a fine job of describing the inception of these songs, and he also denotes the tunings… so I wanted to talk to Surette more about some of his perspectives on guitars, playing, and some of his influences.

W&W : Calling David Surette.. David, are you there?

Hey man, how’s it going?

W&W : Very well, how are you?

Good, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

W&W : Let’s talk about where you are and where you’ve been. You seem to have extremely strong ties to the music scene up in Maine… have you always lived in that part of the world? Where were you when your interest in guitar first developed, and what did you concentrate on when you were first starting out?

Well, I grew up in northern New Hampshire in the mountains, North Conway, which is right on the border with Maine. So I’ve always been a NH/ME kind of guy. I moved down to this area when I was going to college at UNH, from ’81-’85, and ended up sticking around. There’s a good local music scene here, and it’s close to a lot of other great spots, like Boston and Portland.

I started to play guitar when I was 14, and I’m 47 now.  I started out on electric and acoustic, mostly ’60s-’70s rock. I loved blues-rock, too, and rootsy stuff like The Dead, The Band, The Allmans, so I got into the blues and folk stuff that way, like checking out this guy Robert Johnson that the Stones were covering. I’m probably like a lot of other folks in that regard. I got into fingerpicking in college. Continue reading

Review : Vin Du Select Qualitite “Solo Acoustic” LP Series (2010/2011, VDSQ Records)

VDSQ-OneI recently became aware of an intriguing new series of limited-edition LPs by a California label called Vin Du Select Qualitite. The Solo Acoustic series features a few marquee names (Thurston Moore and Chris Brokaw are probably the most well known) as well as some up and coming pickers. Many of these recordings aren’t strictly acoustic, with several of the players employing delay and looping effects, pickups et al, and the liberal overdubbage in evidence can sometimes stretch the term “solo” pretty thin… but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The packaging of these albums is consistent and simple: each disc features a white sleeve with a single-color, guitar related photo. The spartan design sense and the limited availability of these records are reminiscent of many of the privately pressed guitar albums of the ‘60s and ‘70s. In this article, I’ll give short reviews of the first six VDSQ LPs, some of which are already selling out of their initial runs. If you’re interested in any of these releases, I encourage you to act fast… these have “collector’s item” written all over them! Continue reading

Interview : Sam Moss

SM on Building 1I first became aware of Sam Moss’ playing via Tompkins Square’s Imaginational Anthem Vol. 4.  Sam fit right into that album’s Takoma-leaning tracklist, and much of Sam’s music that I’ve heard since has had a pronounced American Primitive approach…  his double-thumb, spare melodies and pretty pattern picking not only invoke the music of John Fahey and Peter Lang, but also modern-day interpreters of the genre like Glenn Jones and the late Jack Rose.  I recently caught up with Sam to talk about his new release, Eight Constructions.

W&W : Talk about how you got started in music, some of your early influences.

Most of my early influences came from the music my family listened to. My early memories involve Marvin Gaye, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mozart and Benny Goodman. My parents are big music appreciators and my grandfather loved big bands. The joy he got from listening to Goodman, Count Basie or Artie Shaw was one of the main reasons that I wanted to play music. He was an artist and he used to have a cymbal in his studio so that he could keep time while blasting his records! I initially wanted to play the clarinet, but I ended up with a violin in my hands.

W&W : When did you first start playing acoustic guitar?

When I was something like thirteen. I favored electric for a long time, until I got into jazz a few years later. I started exploring the possibilities of solo acoustic playing, fingerstyle, etc, a few years ago.

W&W : Please describe your primary guitar, how you got it, how long you’ve had it, etc.

It’s a Tacoma DR12, made sometime around 2000, before the company was bought by Fender. I picked it up used a few years ago at a Guitar Center. Almost all the Tacoma’s made around that era have a finish flaw on the back and sides that causes little air bubbles to spread all over. Mine has it really bad and the finish is chipped all around the sides and is continually getting worse. Tacoma makes a pretty ugly guitar to begin with and the finish issue really puts it over the top. But it’s a great sounding dreadnought and the price was right… it has character. Continue reading

Review : Jack Rose & Glenn Jones “The Things That We Used To Do” DVD (Strange Attractors Audio House, 2010)

by Raymond Morin

The late Jack Rose and his good friend Glenn Jones have established worldwide reputations as standard-bearers in the modern instrumental guitar movement, and here at Work & Worry, we’ve always tried to give them their due.  In the months since Rose’s untimely death, there has been a flood of new Jack-related releases:  his fantastic full length album, a six-plus hour, digital-only tribute collection, and an upcoming EP featuring D.Charles Speer… a lot to take in, and at this website, we haven’t had the easiest time keeping pace.  Heck, I think I would’ve been satisfied with just the excellent Brickbat Books Bootlegs posted by Delta Slider a little while back! But I think that I can say with some confidence that the most indispensable artifact from this important era in underground acoustic guitar music might be this wonderful DVD from Strange Attactors Audio House. Continue reading

Review : Jack Rose “Luck In The Valley” LP/CD (Thrill Jockey, 2010)

by David Leicht

Performing is a musician’s most reliable path to the mastery of technique and ideas. The late Jack Rose constructed his solo guitar repertoire through years of persistent touring to become one of the commanding players of our generation. His 2005 album, Kensington Blues, presented eight selections that would serve as prototypes for his subsequent work, and a guitar vocabulary that was both deep-rooted and deliberately limited. Jack did not dabble, at least in public (he once told me that he played “Blackwaterside” now and then for a kick or as a warm-up). Instead, he continually explored variations of his core ideas. On his ultimate album, Luck In The Valley, he works primarily in ensemble with a cast that includes Glenn Jones, The Black Twig Pickers, Harmonica Dan and Hans Chew.

Jack’s work on the Weissenborn is the part of his repertoire I enjoy most. He used lap slide conventionally, for blues solos, but would also turn to it for modal, rāga-like excursions like “Now That I’m A Man Full Grown II” (from Kensington Blues) and “Song For The Owl” (from the limited edition 2009 LP, The Black Dirt Sessions). Luck In The Valley opens with a selection in this mold, entitled “Blues For Percy Danforth.” Jack’s slide on the take is charged and immediate, while an accompaniment of jaw harp and harmonica cleverly approximates sitar overtones. Within the context of the current guitar underground, where there is no shortage of Hindustani exotica, this cut strikes me as a revelation:

As “Danforth” fades, the album turns on a dime into “Lick Mountain Ramble,” the first of several rowdy ensemble pieces described in the press notes as “three-track shack recordings.” These tunes are elemental, joyful and beautifully presented. Jack’s “boom-chick” is the pervasive force, but is never artificially favored in the mixes, which are appropriately roomy and not over-engineered. My favorite is “When Tailgate Drops, The Bullshit Stops” (of course, though, I’m a sucker for the title)

“Tree In The Valley,” from the latter half of the album, is the second rāga-style work and one of only two solos, played in the manner of Robbie Bãsho’s “A North American Raga (The Plumstar)” (from 1971’s Song Of The Stallion LP) and Jack’s own “Cross the North Fork” (originally from Kensington Blues, with alternate takes on Tompkins Square’s Imaginational Anthem Volume 2 compilation of 2006 and also The Black Dirt Sessions). What I think Rose brings to this type of guitar playing that most others have not is an unwavering sense of resolve: there is never a moment’s hesitation, never a loss of direction. He also brings near-flawless execution, and so absent are the missed and bum notes that could jar the listener from reverie.

While Kensington Blues will likely endure as Jack’s signature work, Luck In The Valley, his best since, is a worthy, multifaceted companion.

Buy the LP or CD from Thrill Jockey
Buy the LP or CD from Insound
Dr. Ragtime, a Jack Rose tribute site
Jack Rose on Myspace