Phil deGruy

March 14, 2005

PHIL DEGRUY IS ONE OF THOSE GUYS that truly occupy their own unique space within the guitarcraft continuum. For starters, he plays the Guitarp, an instrument custom-built by Bay Area super-luthier Ralph Novak that’s basically a fanned-fret 7-string guitar with ten additional strings tuned to the upper register of a harp. And the extra strings aren’t just ornamental or “sympathetic” strings—he plays them like a harpist would, fingerpicking chords, melodies, and even pinching-off harmonics. Joining deGruy on the disc of duets are a cast of stellar players, including Larry Coryell, Tronzo, Mike Stern, Reeves Gabrels, Charlie Hunter, Steve Masakowski, and Hank Mackie. Despite the big guns, however, this is clearly deGruy’s show, and he more than holds his own throughout. An astonishing 26-second solo cover of the Looney Tunes theme, transitioning seamlessly into a beautiful duet with Coryell on deGruy’s “Lenny’s From Heaven,” establishes the tenor of the album: often-transcendent arrangements and performances of material ranging from the sublime to the absurd. Trust me, deGruy is one of the finest players ever, and you need this CD. Heard Instinct.

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