Discovering, I know not from where, John Hulbert‘s Guitar On My Knee was the obvious cue for this compilation.
A browse through my archives produces some familiar names of guitarists … Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, John Martyn, Tohpati, Dewa Budjana … but then I got to wondering about all those guitarists out there who are not household names here in Indonesia, and possibly in their home countries.
I found Sounds of Synanon, a 1961 jazz album featuring Joe Pass, in a bargain bin and as much as I have every track committed to whichever side of my brain such stuff gets stored in, it’s the back story which intrigued me. It was recorded by patients of the Synanon drug rehabilitation program where guitarist Joe Pass was living due to his narcotic addiction.
What? Drugs can inspire such creativity and wonderful sounds?
That was news to me back then.
It was probably around the same time that I took a vague interest in folk guitarists and learnt, via the Melody Maker that Davy Graham wrote Anji which influenced a host of British guitarists, and American Paul Simon who went on to include it on his trillion-selling album Sounds of Silence.
The Melody Maker was very much into the jazz scene, so I explored bargain bins and record exchanges for names I recognised from its pages and thus learnt about umpteen jazz and blues guitarists. Including blues and jazz guitarist Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang “regarded by some as the Father of Jazz Guitar” is a win-win fit.
Living in London, I was able to get to a few concerts by classical guitarists, such as Segovia, “the grandfather of the classical guitar”, and his student John Williams who later said that Segovia stifled his style. Luckily for us, Williams went his own way once he could.
Jackie King has echoes of classical guitar in his compositions, though I wish he not mix up so many genres in the one track.
Vini Reilly (Durutti Column) hasn’t sought fame and fortune, to his detriment , and there’s something both fragile and haunting about his “shimmering” sound. He says: “It’s just music, innit.” Maybe so, but oh, what music it is!
I suspect that Dean McFee, also a solo guitarist from the UK, has been influenced by Vini.
In 1981, Steve Eliovson recorded his only album, Dawn Dance, for ECM no less. And that was it. Another sad tale. But if this music is his epitaph, then he will live on.
01. John Hulburt – Guitar On My Knee
02. John Renbourn – Anji
03. Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang – Hot Fingers
04. John Williams – Variations on a Theme by G.F.Handel
05. Jackie King – Yellow Thunder
06. Durutti Column (Vini Reilly) – Lips That Would Kiss
07. Dean McPhee – Smoke and Mirrors
08. Steve Eliovsson – Dawn Dance
And for a finale, the still sadly missed John Martyn showed how it was done back in 1978 ….