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(47:24, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. It's All the Same 4:07 2. Charlotte 2:48 3. Brother 6:26 4. Within the Clouds 7:22 5. Frostbite 3:48 6. Indian Summer 5:06 7. Look Back Step Forward 4:50 8. Monsoon Season 2:54 9. A Latin Winter 3:40 10. Tesha 6:23 LINEUP: Gadi Caplan – guitars With: Michael Hurwitz – keyboards, piano Gonzalo Allendes – keyboards Noga Shefi – bass Moses Eder – drums Michael Summer – saxophones Oded Weinstock – violin Jussi Reijonen – oud Tucker Antell – flute &: A few more musicians
Prolusion. US-based composer and guitarist Gadi CAPLAN, originally a native of Israel, released his debut solo album "Opposite Views" back in 2010. "Look Back Step Forward" from 2013 is his second production, initially self-released like his debut album, then later on picked up by the French label Musea Records and distributed through their Musea Parallele imprint.
Analysis. When listening through this production, one of the first thoughts that struck my mind was that for a guitarists solo album, there's not really that many guitar-dominated arrangements on this disc. You have your fair share of guitar solo driven movements true enough, but even then they tend to be of a fairly careful and subtle character. That Caplan's bio reveals that the piano was his first instrument may have something to do with that, as his compositions have something of a careful nature to them of the kind I would have expected came from a pianist rather than a guitarist, the fact that the guitar often has more of a subservient, supplemental role in the arrangements, emphasizing that impression in my mind. The ten compositions here cover a fair bit of ground between them, but the majority of them appear to have somewhat of a foundation in jazz rock. Still, opening track It's All the Same is one of the few instances of this style explored in a purebred manner, with dual saxophone harmonies bookending a creation that also has room for an electric piano and electric guitar solo, with light, funky guitar details delicately flavoring the proceedings. The quirky Frostbite, the somewhat more world music oriented title track Look Back Step Forward and the careful and aptly named A Latin Winter all also hone in on different aspects of jazz rock in varying degrees, a common denominator here as elsewhere the delicate, tasteful guitar details of Caplan whether he is providing dominant lead motifs, guitar solos or supplying features of a more supplemental nature. The acoustic piece Charlotte, a standalone guitar creation, documents the delicate parts of Caplan's repertoire quite nicely, while Brother and Within the Clouds both come closer to progressive rock in terms of structure and arrangements. The former is a rare instance of a vocals-based composition, alternating between jazz rock and a careful variety of symphonic progressive rock, the latter a slowly intensifying instrumental creation also employing elements from these two stylistic expressions, but with a certain emphasis on careful guitar solo details of a kind that gave me instant associations to some of the recent albums by SBB and the gentle touch of guitarist Apostolis Anthimos. Indian Summer and Monsoon Season both document that Caplan has a certain affection for folk and world music inspired creations too, as does concluding track Tesha. The former and latter come with plenty of space for the violin to soar, while Monsoon Season plays with unusual timbres and what appears to be a fluctuating electronic noise adding a slightly alien sounding touch to the arrangements that suits this one quite nicely. There's a fair share of variety to enjoy on this album, and plenty of ear candy for those who enjoy listening to a skilled guitarist. In this particular case a guitarist who appears to have a subtle expertise in using the gentle touch, and one who feels just as much at home in supplying the supplemental details as he does in delivering his delicate, mostly distinctly melodic guitar solo sequences.
Conclusion. Careful and delicate compositions, fairly smooth even when hitting the occasional richly layered impact sequences, is what Gadi Caplan presents on his second album "Look back Step Forward". A mostly instrumental production, with jazz rock and progressive rock as the main features with some forays into folk and world music for additional details. An album to seek out by those who find this blend fascinating, and especially by those who enjoy listening to high-quality musicianship by an instrumentalist who appears to enjoy employing a careful and delicate approach to the art of creating and performing his music.
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