March 19, 2008
The excellence Harry Manx brings to acoustic blues, lap-slide, and other steel-string styles, including British Isles folk (befitting his Isle of Man upbringing), should be more than enough to merit the guitarist space on your video shelf. It’s something else on this DVD, though, that may earn this disc regular spin time in your player, and that’s the section where Manx performs pieces (and gives a fascinating tutorial) on his 20-string Mohan Veena—the half-guitar/ half-sitar instrument of his Indian mentor, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. With the drone of sympathetic strings shimmering beneath perfectly inflected ragas and raga-like blues tunes (all played lap-slide style), Manx succeeds with Indian music in areas where most Western guitarists attempting the feat fail. Manx goes far beyond a mere intellectual application of Indian musical concepts. He spent 12-plus years in India—long enough, it seems, for the country’s music to seep into his bones—and it shows in his phrasing, authentic “circular” slide vibrato, and the way he nails those hypnotic microtonal “’tweener” notes. Captivating.