Virtues of the Well
Packed with strangely catchy, offbeat sonic portraits, Virtues of the Well (Corridor CORD 31007-2; 62:24) showcases the creative craftsmanship of guitarist Robert Tye in a super-tight trio (bassist Jim Simonson and drummer David Taylor make up the stellar rhythm section). A sneaky arranger, Tye catches listeners off-guard with pieces which seem abstract, but are meticulously designed. For example "Thorn," with its rolling big-beat drums and skittering guitar fretwork, has the ingredients of a whacked, grand fusion wallop, but builds into an atmospheric suite with distinct, oddly hooky passages. Likewise, the eerie spindly riffs and harmonics marking "(My Vacation) At the Laundry Mat" turn offbeat chords into attractive melodies. The trio works with a variety of colors as well: where "Okay" features Tye's dextrous, doodling fretwork in a bluesy call-and-answer format, "The Girl From South Walkerville" emerges as a quiet appreciation, with the small ensemble moving in and swelling with light reverence, and Chris Plankster's piano work providing golden highlights. This precise execution on a variety of surprisingly catchy pieces, make the Virtues of the Well well worth discovering.