Reviews

Guitarist Gideon King grew up hearing jazz (played by his brother pianist Jonny King), classical music and singer/songwriters. All of those inspirations are felt in his music, which could be called “folk jazz,” “new acoustic music” or “acoustic fusion” but which in reality is beyond any simple category.

Most of his debut, Revisiting Spaces, features Gideon King’s solo guitar, whether it is the dark-sounding baritone guitar, the nylon string, a double-top steel string or a guitar synthesizer. Subtle overdubbing takes place on some selections while “Fusion Confusion” is a change of pace, showcasing King on several instruments along with drummer Willard Dyson.

In his liner notes, the guitarist mentions about how Revisiting Spaces is inspired by Bill Evans’ Alone and Pat Metheny’s One Quiet Night. One can certainly hear hints of the latter during the selections that utilize his baritone guitar although King has a different approach than Metheny. The program, which is comprised of 13 of his originals, is thoughtful, usually develops slowly, and is quite cinematic and quietly expressive.

The opening “Revisiting Spaces,” which starts out with some rhythmic baritone guitar, is about solitude and has a forward movement that develops logically. “All The Way Back,” which is about making a comeback from injury, evolves from single note lines to becoming a celebratory rockish piece. “The Axes of Dake” and “July 28, 1914” (the date is a milestone in World War I.) are tasteful ballads with both pieces showing the influence of classical guitar.

The thoughtful “The Goal is the Goal” is contrasted by “Fusion Confusion,” a hot , funky and danceable number that is anything but confusing. King’s solo baritone guitar on “Decision In Venice” and on the archback acoustic during “The Summary Of Regret” are dark, melodic and a bit wistful. “Estoy de Acuerdo” has some catchy rhythmic patterns played on the double-top steel string guitar.

“Edward J. King” is a heartfelt New Age ballad played by King on guitar synth that is a farewell to his late father. One of the strongest performances on the CD, “Four Variations For Diane” (dedicated to his wife), is a minisuite that is often Brazilian flavored, relaxing yet quietly passionate. “Sonny Boy” is a tribute to going fishing with his young son while the closing “Praying Mantis” could easily come from a dream.

But when it comes to music of this nature, words only go so far. Gideon King’s picturesque originals form a perfect soundtrack for one’s thoughts and due to their subtlety and richness, they stick in one’s mind long after the CD ends.

Scott Yanow, author of ten books including Jazz On Record 1917-76, Jazz On Film and The Jazz Singers