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August 2008

Philip Catherine
Guitars Two
Dreyfus Jazz

If the veteran Belgium guitarist’s first solo recording sounds like the product of an intimate collaboration, chalk it up to the finesse he displays as a player, composer, arranger and conceptualist. Multi-tasking is not the least of Catherine’s talents.

Though the album’s title refers to a 1975 precedent—Catherine’s Atlantic release Guitars—Guitars Two radiates its own charm and lyricism, with the accent elegantly shifting between acoustic to electric textures, sometimes within the span of a single performance. Certainly there’s no lack of appealing, evocative melodies, and Catherine deserves credit for composing several of them, including the aptly titled, blues-tinted “Pendulum,” the bossa-nova charmer “Bois Le Baron” and the closing vignette “Marc Moulin on the Beach.” Complementing the eight original pieces are five additional compositions, most notably John Lewis’ “Skating in Central Park” and the Guinga/Aldir Blanc ballad “Aria De Opereta.” Both showcase Catherine’s crisp, shimmering acoustic guitar work.

Anyone looking for Catherine to demonstrate his gift for flat-out swing should dig deeper into his discography, since Guitars Two has a lot more to do with mood than motion. Still, there’s no mistaking Catherine’s jazz instincts and honed technique when he combines flowing single-note runs with subtle harmonic touches on “Merci Philip” and “Jacobien,” two of the album’s indisputable highlights.

Originally published in August 2008
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