Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guitarist Dennis Rea Chimes In with A Fascinating Album of Chinese Music

In a short period of time Dennis Rea has established himself as a guitar-composer of great promise and diverse stylistic tendencies. His albums with Moraine and Iron Kim Style (MoonJune, both reviewed on these pages) showed a more aggressive, hard hitting style of avant fusion. Now with his Views From Chicheng Precipice (Moon June 034), he shows the more aerated, meditative, chamber music aspect of his talents.

It's based on new compositions inspired by traditional Chinese music as well as rearrangements of actual pieces. It does for this form of expression what Miles and Gil Evans did with Spanish music on Sketches of Spain, this time with Rea's guitar taking a prominent role and the musical ensemble providing an intricately enmeshed pastel sound quality filled with light and shadow. That is not to say that the music sounds like that Milesian masterpiece; the sound and the execution are worlds apart, but no less intriguing for that.

There are luminescent chamber fusion sections, music that alternates between the calmness that signifies like the play of reflections on a gently undulating garden pond and more densely powerful moments.

It is an achievement that has no real parallel in the music offerings out there lately. And it reconfirms that Dennis Rea is an important emergent figure on the music scene of today. It is a highly rewarding listen. And it's beautifully produced. Excellent!

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