|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1.5 cm|
CD Review by Roger Holdsworth
The love of guitars – 6, 10 and 12 string – unites this release from Melbourne-based Matthew Fagan and these guitars take Matthew, and us, on Voyages and Journeys to many different parts of the world.
On those wanderings, he also brings banjos and mandolins and is joined by many other musicians in a ‘Voyages World Music Group’ that has included the diversities of Chinese sheng, Iranian violin, didgeridoo, frame drums, sitar and flamenco dancers.
Despite these diverse influences, the CD maintains a clear focus on Fagan’s guitar playing, with a clear love of both flamenco and gypsy rhythms evident in selections and arrangements.
Some, such as Joaquin Rodrigo’s Adagio from the ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ will be familiar, here reinterpreted and retitled ‘Rodrigo’ as a dance piece; others mark Fagan’s own travels in the USA in ‘Road to Kansas’ and ‘Alaska Sunrise’,while the longer title track (towards the end of the CD) unites Spanish, Celtic, Indian and Gypsy sounds in a homage to traveling.
Originally produced in 2004, this CD has taken a few years to emerge (or re-emerge) into distribution.
It remains the core of Matthew Fagan’s live performances with Spanish guitar and dancers, and which acknowledge infl uences such widely spread as Django Reinhardt and Billy Connolly.
The lavish production of the booklet would have been enhanced by more extensive notes on tracks, rather than cryptic full-page illustrations, however this is minor criticism of a CD that bears re-visiting.
Review by Ian Dearden
Matthew Fagan’s album, ‘Voyages and Journeys’ is a tour de force by the guitarist, showcasing his instrumental talents on steel string, nylon string and electric and slide guitars, as well as banjo, mandolin and his considerable talents as a composer of guitar instrumental pieces in a wide variety of styles.
The only pieces on the album not composed by Fagan are ‘Rodrigo’, Matthew’s arrangement of the famous Adagio movement of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, and his arrangement of the traditional South American waltz, ‘La Partida’.
The album was, it seems, some years in the planning and recording, before its launch in 2010.
However, age has not wearied it and it sounds as if it was recorded yesterday.
Each of the tracks draws for its musical inspiration on some aspect of world music culture.
‘Road to Kansas’ has a wide open road, Americana feel, whereas ‘Arabesque’, unsurprisingly, transports us into the melange of Spanish/Moorish influences.
‘Island Song’ has us drifting in the sunshine of the Bahamas (with overlays of jazz fusion), and ‘Renaissance’ evokes images of courtly dances in an Elizabethan royal court.
‘German Lullaby’ is a gorgeous and restrained interplay of classical guitar and mandolins, ‘Alaska Sunrise’ features sweet, fingerstyle steel string guitar playing.
‘Booker’s Blues’ is a brass and organ driven homage to the cultural melting pot of New Orleans, whilst ‘Havana’ has us on our feet with its infectious Cuban rhythms, and ‘Gypsy Caravan’ is exactly what it says on the tin.
It’s an album that features great instrumental chops from all the players, in arrangements which feature often dense, extensive and exciting kit, percussion, brass and keyboard contributions from a wide range of uncredited musicians.
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