Peppino D’Agostino: Every Step of the Way

A couple of years ago, rocker Steve Vai formed the Favored Nations label. One of the artists he picked up was acoustic fingerstylist Peppino D’Agostino, whose Every Step of the Way (Favored Nations Acoustic) features an assortment of inventive original solos written between 1979 and 2002. D’Agostino utilizes a wide variety of tunings, frequently giving his compositions a distinct modal quality. He often sets up an underlying ostinato (“Running Wild,” “Grand Canyon,” “The Genie”) that not only propels the piece along but also provides a foundation over which he places finger-twisting countermelodies, chords and effects like harmonics. Other tunes are more conventional in makeup, including “Costa Rica,” with its relatively derivative chord sequence, and “Mother’s Tears,” a slow tango. D’Agostino’s music isn’t jazz by any stretch of the imagination; however, it is certainly pleasant, inventive, varied and full of enticing moments.