1 Lover Man
2 Cheek To Cheek
3 Easy Living
4 I Never Knew
6 I Should Care
7 Stella By Starlight
10 Round Midnight
11 How About You
12 You Go To My Head
13 The Song Has Ended
14 Where Are You
15 A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
16 All The Things You Are
17 My Old Flame
18 It Might As Well Be Spring
19 Dancing On The Ceiling
20 You`ve Changed
21 I Fall In Love Too Easily/Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
22 For All We Know/I Can`t Get Started
ESMOND SELWYN - The Axe: Solo Jazz Guitar (Slam 265; UK)
"I've heard your solo album "The Axe" and I find it edifying."
If you listened to this blind, you might think Pablo had uncovered yet another unreleased Joe Pass session, but no, this is by Welsh guitarist Esmond Selwyn. Selwyn’s playing has superficial resemblances to Pass in the thoughtful single note picking and the rippling flourishes at the ends of lines but the liner notes of this CD instead cite Tal Farlow and George Van Eps as his main influences, and you can hear that. On tracks like “Lover Man” and “Easy Living” he does full-blown, splashy rhapsodizing like Farlow but on others, like “Cheek To Cheek” and “The Song Is Ended,” he plays with the compressed rhythmic chug of a ‘20s player like Eps, a style that bears a vague resemblance to the spiky brutalities of Derek Bailey though the end sound bears no resemblance. Selwyn’s treatment of “All The Things You Are” may be his most striking work here, playing wistfully through the verse then going into a relaxed treatment of the chorus with arpeggios and muscle-flexing side comments and also throwing in an impressive double-time passage. Selwyn shows on this CD that he is a real master of Jazz guitar.
Inspired by legendary jazz guitars like Joe Pass, Tal Farlow and George Van Eps, Esmond Selwyn is one of the best jazz guitarists to emerge from England. A favored collaborator of Don Rendell in the 80's, Esmond has also worked with George Haslam more recently. For this extraordinary tour-de-force, Mr. Selwyn performs 22 standards on solo hollow-body electric guitar recorded in the studio in 2005 and live at the Wirral Guitar Festival in 2004. Esmond does a wonderful job performing chestnuts like "Lover Man," "Tenderly," " 'Round Midnight," and "All the Things You Are." Selwyn does a beautiful job of embracing the lyrical melodies of each of these tunes and embellishing them with astonishing flourishes of exquisite taste and an elegant touch. From the sublime to the astonishing, he quite literally does it all. –
He may not loom large on American shores, but British jazz guitarist Esmond Selwyn is highly-regarded in his native land. On this solo outing, he performs twenty-two standards. Memories of late guitar great Joe Pass’ Virtuoso (Pablo, 1974) are stirred. Lyrically gifted and technically formidable, Selwyn deconstructs the familiar material with delicacy and flair. He has a real talent for personalising popular standards while simultaneously treating their composers' structures with respect, and his complex phrasings add to the interest. Selwyn might prove to be one of the global jazz community’s best kept secrets.
British guitarist Esmond Selwyn has such astounding tecnique that you wonder why he's not better know Stateside. The Axe is somewhat frustrating: the one-take-only vibe of the album generates palpable excitement, demonstrating that Selwyn's jazz spirit is alive and well, but the guitarist's prediliction for mid-range chord voicings comes out a bit muddy in the final mix. In spite of this minor flaw, the playing is outstanding and inspired, bringing life to a who's who of standard chestnuts: "Stella by Starlight" is boppy and full of brio, rippling with muscular, daredevil lines. "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" is contemplative, laced with spicy chromatics and spacey meanderings; and "All the Things You Are" is a tour de forcefulness, a fast and furious two-way conversation of juxtaposed registers.
"This was my first introduction to Esmond Selwyn's music and I will now be a life long fan.
Renegade is an amazing high energy recording. Esmond's guitar playing showcases his impeccable technique and virtuosity.
He is undoubtedly a master of his instrument.".