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Diego Barber: One Minute Later (Sunnyside)

Review of album by guitarist

Cover of One Minute Later album by Diego Barber
Cover of One Minute Later album by Diego Barber

When Diego Barber began studying guitar, he focused on classical music. Jazz has only showed up on his radar in the past decade, taking over when the native of the Canary Islands moved to New York City. He has retained the impeccable tone and strikingly precise technique of a classical player. When he rapidly plucks arpeggios, each note resonates. “Elvira Maria,” a solo that closes One Minute Later, creates a romantic mood, with sterling out-of-tempo phrases hanging in the air.

For the other tracks, Barber is joined by Eric Harland (drums), Ben Williams (bass) and Alejandro Coello Calvo (marimba, percussion). Harland and Williams accentuate the grooves, mostly providing a foundation for the guitarist’s complex riffs. The marimba complements Barber’s clean guitar sound, although Calvo’s simple lines feel underutilized on several tracks. (He often sounds a bit too low in the mix as well.) Which brings up the larger shortcoming of One Minute Later. Inspired by the Andalusian region of Spain, the music sets atmospheric scenes but too often falls short of developing them fully. The opening “Jacaranda” works as an ambient intro, but the fingerpicked “Trevenque” veers close to minimalist repetition and “Veleta’s Peak” spends most of its time on a one-chord riff. Dreamy as the latter sounds, it would have benefited from more variety. Barber doesn’t take a proper solo until track six, “Big House,” which also includes a bright solo by Williams. If it were able to break away from the surplus of mood-setting composition, the album might leave a more lasting impression.

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