Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tommy Emmanuel & Martin Taylor The Colonel & The Governor Mesa/Bluemoon 2013

Street Date 05/17/13

Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor are two of the most proficient guitarists and together they make up one of the finest guitar duos you may run across. The Colonel & The Governor combines some well crafted originals and some well loved standards for an amazing presentation that should cut a wide path of acceptance among a larger audience. It is simply not enough to do a riff on a standard, there are more guitarists then you can count that can accomplish that and with minimal effort. Problem being you can play the notes but can you make the music? No issues here. Both Emmanuel and Taylor have gift of understanding you don't mangle a beautiful melody but you do have to understand the tune and where the original was going or what the lyrics are really saying. Emmanuel and Taylor play off each other with clarity, precision and creativity that makes for one of the finest guitar releases for 2013.

As a resident of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I was excited to see that Australian Tommy Emmanuel hold the distinction of being an honorary Kentucky Colonel which is one of the highest awards the Commonwealth can bestow on an individual. This explains the "Colonel" in the title and along with that Emmanuel is a CGP (Certified Guitar Player) and an Order of Australia Medalist. Martin Taylor is a M.B.E (Member of the British Empire) while holding two Honorary Doctorate degrees to Emmanuel's honorary Masters Degree. For the six string aficionados and gear heads, Taylor plays his signature Maestro jazz guitar while Emmanuel plays his 1930 Martin 017 Mahogany guitar, his Godin 5th Avenue guitar and his Maton custom EGB808. "The Governor" happens to be the nickname that Emmanuel gave Taylor.

While Martin has a solid jazz background, Emmanuel's wheelhouse tends to be that perfect hybrid of country and rock. All the stars were in perfect alignment for this recording. Layers of textured swing combine with subtle lyrical nuances of flavor and melodic development to create a singular voice etched with a harmonic sense of purpose and the right amount of pop to keep things interesting. Speaking of "pop" the classic "I Won't Last A Day Without You" opens this gem and the sonic profile they chase has them reinventing a classic and spinning the tune in a new direction. The jazz riff done here is a real deal approach to make the composition their own without disrespecting the original or themselves. There is an effervescent quality to their own brand of swing as is displayed on "Jersey Bounce." The Hoagy Carmichael tune "The Nearness of You" is dialed down just a touch while never losing the melodic progression that seems so natural that the chemistry is undeniable here. The arrangements here simply seal the deal while allowing both Emmanuel and Taylor to soar unrestricted by convention. 

Finger picking and traditional jazz that ventures into the swing influence of such masters as Django Reinhardt never sounded so good. You would be hard pressed to find two other guitarists with the ability to check egos at the door and pursue the spectacular musical statement that this dynamic duo pulls off so well. The originals are superbly crafted and the covers are reharms that still allow the tunes to be recognized and stand on their own merit. 

Incredibly organic yet wildly accessible. A perfect blend of the eclectic with the more modern traditions of the straight ahead world of jazz guitar.

If you are limited to just one more jazz release this year then The Colonel & The Governor would certainly top my list for recommendations. 

Tracks: I Won't Last A Day Without You; Jersey Bounce; Bernie's Tune; A Smooth One; True; Heat Wave; One Day; Lullaby of Birdland; The Nearness Of You; Down At Cocomo's; The Fair Haired Child; Secret Love; Wonderful Baby; I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.

Personnel: Tommy Emmanuel & Martin Taylor: guitars.  

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