The press release for this album references “the guitar community.” At first it sounds odd. There is no “saxophone community” or “trumpet community.” Yet who can doubt that we have been living (at least until recently) in the Guitar Age? If there truly is such a community—populated by guitarists, would-be guitarists, and guitar junkies—it should grasp this duo to its motley bosom. Jonathan Kreisberg and Nelson Veras are guitar monsters.
They come from different places. Kreisberg, from New York through Miami, is an advanced mainstream employer of the Gibson ES-175 hollowbody electric. Veras, from Salvador de Bahia through Paris, is a postmodern Brazilian classicist who plays nylon-string acoustic. Alone together, they unfold luxuriant tapestries of sound. Kreisberg composes varied forms that gain interest when he and Veras, in turn, elaborate them in long sinuous lines, comping for one another richly, in layers.
Several pieces, famous and not, come from the jazz canon. A rapt atmosphere prevails. Even Monk’s “Bye-Ya,” a tune that usually catapults, flows. Wayne Shorter’s “Face on the Barroom Floor,” atypically poignant for a Weather Report song, feels especially brooding when claimed by this two-man guitar choir. That they listen closely to one another is demonstrated by their spontaneous counterpoint and the connectedness of their exchanges.
There is little to complain about in an album that offers both intellectual substance and sheer sensuous pleasure. But “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” reveals some limitations. Kreisberg and Veras turn it into another of their elegant excursions and miss the depths of love and pain in Charles Mingus’ mournful elegy, written on the day Lester Young died. Also, the aural environment of this recording lacks contrast. The guitar community won’t mind.