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April 2005

Sylvain Luc
Solo Ambre
Dreyfus Records

Sylvain Luc's latest, Ambre (Dreyfus), has the accomplished guitarist of Basque descent alternating between strictly solo guitar pieces, performed on either nylon string or steel string acoustic guitar, and involved production numbers using layers of multitracked guitar parts. On Thad Jones' "A Child Is Born" he plays chords on a nylon string acoustic while simultaneously laying down bass lines with his low E and A strings tuned down an octave (a la Charlie Hunter). On top of this he plays the familiar melody on a fretless nylon string guitar. "Omenaldi (Hommage)" is an intricate piece involving four separate guitar parts covering melody, chords, bass and percussion. He uses the same method of achieving a full-sounding guitar choir on his own "Folklore Imaginaire (Miss Moustique)." Luc's overdubbed take on Miles Davis' "All Blues" features some shimmering, jaw-dropping single note lines and provocative reharmonizations on top of the familiar grooving bass line. The unaccompanied pieces, like fingerstyle rendition of the French traditional song "Gentil Coquelicot," reveal a player of uncommon virtuosity.

Originally published in April 2005
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