Works by Bellinati, Sagreras, Jobim, Myers, Tarrega, York, Brouwer, Dyens, Tarrega, Barrios, Segovia, Lauro, Bustamante, Sainz de la Maza, Ellington, trad. Mexican
Jason Vieaux (guitar)
Azica Records ACD71287 - PT - Liner notes in English
Duke Ellington would sometimes ask a soloist to “state the theme” at the beginning of a big-band number, and that’s what guitarist Jason Vieaux does in the first bars of the Ellington-Strayhorn classic In A Sentimental Mood. The tune is almost unrecognizable and then he circles to that famous “Mood” melody, making it jazzier, with acoustic note bending, and tapping into its blues undercurrent.
The Ellington number is the dazzling finale track to Vieaux’s solo guitar disc PLAY. Throughout the 17-track recording, Vieaux displays the versatility of the guitar and features an A-list of underappreciated guitar composers. In the liner notes, Vieaux explains why he chose each selection, and what many of the composers bring to writing for the solo guitar. The global culture of guitar is also fully represented.
Andres Segovia composed Estudio Sin Luz as a soulful guitar etude and Vieaux writes that it was the first recital piece he learned at age 12 and that he thinks Segovia would have been a great composer had he not been in demand as the international ambassador of guitar. He explains that Segovia composed the song while mostly blind after eye surgery, hence the title. No less moving or instructive is the traditional Mexican guitar ballade Por ti mi Corazón evoking yearning and meditation.
On Brazilian composer Paulo Bellinati’s Jongo, a pulsing fusion of African “jongo” dance rhythms and Brazilian jazz, Vieaux eventually beats on the body of his guitar. Vieaux cites Leo Brouwer as one of the most important composers of guitar music and plays his joyous Danza Caracteristica. Zapateadois a traditional quickstep dance number by composer Regino Sainz de la Maza, a contemporary of Joaquín Rodrigo. The understated virtuosity is luminous on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s breezy calypso rhythms of A Felicidade.
Misionera is based on regional music from the northern region of Argentina, near the Brazil-Paraguay borders, and is composed and arranged by one of Vieaux’s early teachers, Jorge Morel; Vieaux likes to play it as an encore showpiece, admitting to “copping” Morel’s style. Vieaux also includes the elegiac Cavatina guitar theme from the 70s classic anti-war film The Deer Hunter, by veteran British film composer Stanley Myers.
Jason Vieaux’s rich tone, inventive contours, and indelible accents are everywhere on PLAY. The disc was pristinely engineered by Bruce Egre for Azica Records in Cleveland, Ohio. It has the feel of live performance and fortunately, if you are in the Camden - Philly area you can catch Vieaux in March in concert with Symphony in C, a professional training ground for classical players under the musical directorship of Rossen Milanov.