Editor Boys Big Eight

February 16, 2007

Andreu Zaragoza Barcelona, Spain, “Fugaz Preview”

This is smooth jazz with a twist, as Zaragoza doesn’t embellish the melody, as much as pirouette all around it with his spidery runs. Pulling taut, sensuous tones from a Godin Multiac Jazz, Zaragoza starts soloing 1:33 into the tune, and builds tension with undulating motifs before climaxing with some supple note flurries. myspace.com/andreumusic

John D’Amato Nashville, Tennessee, “Double Stop Me”

I’m almost too exhausted to write this review after being pulled hither and yon by D’Amato’s relentless, breakneck licks. He just keeps spewing out wilder and wilder phrases until you succumb to giddy delight or vertigo. It’s totally fun and technically impressive, but John—have some mercy! myspace.com/johndamato7

Tommy’s Lo-Fi Alexandria, Virginia, “Shift”

Tommy’s not kidding. Recorded in a garage on a 4-track cassette deck, “Shift” certainly won’t win any audiophile awards, and the performance clams aren’t pretty, either. But this is a ferocious track, full of beatific, unselfconscious “screw you” intensity, and it wins my Link Wray Memorial Award for the month. myspace.com/tommyslfr

Erja Lyytinen Helsinki, Finland, “Change of Season”

Although “Dreamland Blues” adapts a cool Zeppelin riff, I almost bailed on Lyytinen, because her blues seemed too conventional and facile. But “Change of Season” is subtle, impassioned, and full of sadness, and the outro solo evokes emotional wreckage by being simultaneously off-kilter and blistering. This is a little gem. myspace.com/erjalyytinen

Michael Schramm Berwyn, Pennsylvania, “Dakota”

“Dakota” is yet another example that you don’t need a lot of whiz-bang production to conjure mystery, vibe, and magic. This is one track of acoustic guitar, and one track of electric slide and volume swells, and yet it manages to be cinematically eerie and beautiful. So much so, that a few minor goofs and some fizzy acoustic tones can’t spoil the mood. myspace.com/michaelschramm

Ranjit Fernandez Doha, Qatar, “Communication”

A mesmerizing blend of Western composition and the music Fernandez absorbs in his adopted country of Qatar, “Communication” employs a repetitious song structure, simple melodies, and a hint of modulation to paint an aural picture of life in Arabia. There’s nothing virtuosic here, but the tune is pretty and hypnotic enough to merit attention. myspace.com/fernandezqatar

Casey Harshbarger Indianapolis, Indiana, “Seasons”

While Harshbarger relies on the liquid lead tone of influences such as Satch and Steve Vai, his composition invites a small battalion of styles to the party, resulting in a languid, mid-tempo track packed with soaring melodies, insistent riffs, a slide passage, stratospheric harmonies, cagey counterpoint lines, shreddy bits, and other goodies. myspace.com/mrcaseyharshbarger

Ronny North Orange County, California, “Race With Me”

North is an “industry guy” who is in with the NAMM crowd, and he didn’t impress gear manufacturers by being some kind of guitar sissy. In fact, he’s one of those rare cats who can lay down a dumb-rock rhythm and shred like a mother. Sublime. Profane. You can’t rock harder than that! myspace.com/ronnynorth

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