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The AXE

Artist: Esmond Selwyn

Date of Release: 01/06/2007

Catalogue no: 1214

Label: SLAM

Price: £9.99

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THE undoubted master of the jazz guitar, Esmond Selwyn has long sought to break away from the traditional solo jazz guitar heritage of chords and single line, always separated and interspersed. His supreme mastery brings sparkling new arrangements of LOVER MAN

 

Reviews

 

01/09/2008 BRIAN MORTON

Selwyn has a lovely touch and his ballad playing on ‘Prelude To A Kiss’ is to die for. He’s also assembled a very capable and responsive band. Perhaps the music needs a touch more dynamic variation, but no complaints. The debut is easily matched by the solo second disc, which has a richness of harmonic detail that is rare in unaccompanied playing and seldom reached even by the acknowledged masters of jazz guitar. The technique is immaculate with self-accompanied lines of such sophistication it often appears a second guitarist is playing rhythm or that Selwyn is overdubbed. It may be that he hasn’t achieved wider recognition simply because he has preferred not to. If so, it makes his achievement all the more extraordinary. If not, time we wakened up to his genius.
From The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th edition)

 

01/01/2008 Jerome Wilson

If you listened to (1) blind, you might think Pablo had uncovered yet another unreleased Joe Pass session, but no, this is by Welsh guitarist Esmond Selwyn. Selwyn’s playing has superficial resemblances to Pass in the thoughtful single note picking and the rippling flourishes at the ends of lines but the liner notes of this CD instead cite Tal Farlow and George Van Eps as his main influences, and you can hear that. On tracks like “Lover Man” and “Easy Living” he does full-blown, splashy rhapsodising like Farlow but on others, like “Cheek To Cheek” and “The Song Is Ended”, he plays with the compressed rhythmic chug of a ‘20s player like Eps, a style that bears a vague resemblance to the spiky brutalities of Derek Bailey though the end sound bears no resemblance. Selwyn’s treatment of “All The Things You Are” may be his most striking work here, playing wistfully through the verse then going into a relaxed treatment of the chorus with arpeggios and muscle-flexing side comments and also throwing in an impressive double-time passage. Selwyn shows on this CD that he is a real master of Jazz guitar.
Cadence Jan 2008 Jerome Wilson

 

01/06/2007 Tom Greenland

British guitarist Esmond Selwyn has such astounding technique that you wonder why he’s not better known stateside. The Axe is somewhat frustrating: the one-take-only vibe of the album generates palatable excitement, demonstrating that Selwyn’s jazz spirit is alive and well, but the guitarist’s predilection for mid-range chord voicings comes out a bit muddy in the final mix. In spite of this minor flaw, the playing is outstanding and inspired, bringing life to a who’s who of standard chestnuts: “Stella by Starlight” is boppy and full of brio, rippling with muscular, daredevil lines that make up for with charisma what they occasionally lack in accuracy

 

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