My Favorite Guitars
For his fourth CD, and first American release, the 29-year-old Swedish guitarist Andreas Öberg pays tribute to George Benson, Toninho Horta, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt and Luis Salinas. His favorite “of all of them,” as he has admitted, is Benson, and he most often plays here in Benson’s blues-inflected style, although he also successfully emulates the styles of Martino, Pat Metheny and Montgomery on compositions by each of them. Öberg displays the most individuality on Reinhardt’s “Troublant Bolero,” and his own appealing ballad “Endless Love,” where he switches to acoustic guitar. Öberg sounds uncannily like Martino on the latter’s “Uptown Down” and “Villa Hermosa,” and channels Montgomery on “The Trick Bag.” Öberg convincingly takes on Metheny’s persona on that guitarist’s “Here to Stay.” Horta’s “Aqui, Oh” is a Brazilian-flavored romp, and Horta’s lovely ballad “Waiting for Angela” receives a heartfelt Benson-like treatment. Benson also comes to mind while listening to Öberg on “Funky Tango” by Salinas. Despite the derivative nature of much of Öberg’s playing on this session, his luminous and precise lines are undoubtedly those of a technically gifted virtuoso, and draw you in despite any reservations regarding a lack of originality. No one can question Öberg’s passion and artistry.
The arrangements are mostly by electronic keyboardists Kuno Schmid and Tamir Hendelman, and bring to mind the best of Creed Taylor’s CTI productions for Benson. The piano solos by Schmid, Hendelman and Marian Petrescu are outstanding throughout. Bassists Kevin Axt and Harish Raghavan set and maintain solid grooves on all selections, and Vic Stevens’ aggressive but complementary drumming is an essential ingredient of this very entertaining CD.