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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'New Leaves'
Artist - Dan Rose / Claudine François

What is it about the guitar that can bring out the raging exhibitionist in those who play it?

All too often we hear recordings featuring guitarists that are flooded with fretboard frenzy; notes and chords cascading about each other seeming as if to prove that all that plentiful practice to master the instrument was well spent.

And then there are guitarists like Dan Rose and albums like his recent solo endeavor Last Night ... and his latest album, the quite beautifully crafted New leaves; a duo set recorded with Claudine François on piano.

Rose, noted for taking his time, finding on the mark harmony and linking it perfectly by way of "mot juste" note selection and phrasing only means that he plays to the song, not to his ego.

That Rose is a virtuoso is unquestioned; his extraordinary command of the instrument is always in plain site, but extravagant speed and other look-what-I-can-do displays are replaced by taste and subtlety.

The beauty of Rose's tone and his mellifluous playing is part and parcel of the artfulness of the classic songs he chooses. Through him we notice once more the sturdy structure and lyrical splendor of long familiar melodies.

And as we listen to his new duo album New Leaves with François, herself a talented pianist and musician of multitudinous adventures (Don Cherry, Jim Pepper, Jane Bunnett, et al), as well as being a multi-faceted artist who, within the expression of her art, incorporates African, Caribbean and African-American post-bop influences without ever renouncing her European roots, we now get to hear two musicians expressing their sincere love of song and elegant improvisation.

Simultaneously, we continually admire a masterful player who treats exquisite music with the respectful restraint it fully deserves. [SF]

1. 'The New Leaf'
2. 'Monk’s Dream'
3. 'Ladies In Mercedes'
4. 'Le Désert'
5. 'Señor Blues'
6. 'Lawns'
7. 'Yes I Do'
8. 'Mr. Slaint'
9. 'The Seagulls of Kristlansund'

Opening with the dulcet tones of 'The New Leaf,' where François' key work backs each deeper note played by Rose perfectly, that's backed by the upbeat 'Monk's Dream,' the poignant, piano-led 'Ladies In Mercedes,' and then we get the lushly free flowing piano work that becomes the magnificent 'Le Désert.'

Up next is the upbeat swing of 'Señor Blues' and that, in turn, is followed by the laid back, Summer's day, sunshine glow of 'Lawns,' the late '60s-imbued haze of 'Yes I Do,' with the album rounding out on the richly imbued tonal values of 'Mr. Slaint,' closing on the more ethereal stillness of 'The Seagulls of Kristlandsund.'

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