Eclectically Purist Solo Guitar from Jonathan Kreisberg
Jonathan Kreisberg’s new solo release, One, is a very rhythmic album, which makes sense for somebody whose main gig is holding down the guitar chair in Dr. Lonnie Smith’s band. But rather than doing anything funky here, Kreisberg keeps his mostly midtempo-to-slow pulse very straight-up. For anyone who might take a look at the track list and think, good grief, do we really need another version of Summertime, this one actually breathes new life into the song, as Kreisberg does with a bunch of other mostly familiar tunes and a couple of originals. One guitarist whose solo work Kreisberg’s elegantly expansive, often lushly chordal approach evokes is another busy New York player, Peter Bernstein.
Throughout the album, Kreisberg plays with a mostly clean, uncluttered tone, limiting his use of effects to a guitar synth pedal for an organ-like sustain on the baroque-influenced miniature, Without Shadow and then a whole slew of them on the closing track, an Elliott Sharp-esque sci-fi theme. The opening track, Canto de Ossanha contrasts insistent, moody, suspenseful, chromatically-charged variations on the opening vamp with a bubbly La Vie En Rose brightness.
Kreisberg transforms Skylark into a blue-sky theme that wouldn’t be out of place in the Bill Frisell catalog, and does Wayne Shorter’s E.S.P. as a blithe samba. How does he get Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah to work as an instrumental? By adding some unexpected ugliness, a brilliant move. His take on Caravan reminds of both the virtuosity – it’s amazing that Kreisberg pulls off as much as he does without overdubs – and creepy pointillisms of the version on the sensational Ulrich Ziegler debut album. It only takes a few seconds for the chorus of Tenderly to springboard a nimble improvisation, while a rather minimalist version of My Favorite Things revisits the baroque. And a nonchalantly swinging take of Johnny Mercer’s I Thought About You gets some subtle ragtime allusions. Notwithstanding Kreisberg’s consistency throughout the album, it’s remarkably eclectic.
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