NEW SHAPES - review by Scott Yanow.
A wide Variety Of Styles By The Pacesetter In Today’s Fusion Scene.»
Author of 11 jazz books and over 20,000 reviews for Down Beat, JazzTimes, L.A. Jazz Scene Scott Yanow is rightfully recognized as one of the most respected music critics of our time. This time Scott didn’t disregard the new joint album of guitar virtuosos Roman Miroshnichenko and Henrik Andersen, appreciating their latest work in his review.
A powerful guitarist who has led more than ten albums so far, Roman Miroshnichenko can be considered one of the pacesetters in today’s fusion scene. He has performed with such greats as Larry Coryell, Steve Vai, Paul Wertico, Bunny Brunel and Al DiMeola. Born and raised in the Ukraine, he started out exploring blues and rock before deciding to become a jazz guitarist, one who is always looking for a new challenge. "New Shapes" is just that for it shows that Miroshnichenko is just as impressive on acoustic guitar as he is on electric. On New Shapes, Roman Miroshnichenko teams up with fellow guitarist Henrik Andersen.
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Andersen is not only a top-notch guitarist but a vocal percussionist who can sing rapid lines. Trilok Gurtu, a famous Indian percussionist who worked with John McLaughlin and Oregon, was one of his teachers and is a special guest on New Shapes.
The project also includes appearances by percussionists Bickram Ghosh, Frank Colon, and Gumbi Ortiz plus violinist Charlie Bisharat.
Sticking to nylon and steel string acoustic guitars, Miroshnichenko and Andersen constantly challenge each other throughout New Shapes while exploring a wide variety of styles. Both are capable of lightning-fast runs and those are used for punctuation throughout the set without losing the essence of the melodies, moods, and rhythms.
The opener, “Russian Mountains,” makes it clear that the guitarists are both virtuosos but ones who always keep the melody in mind. This is one of several pieces in which Andersen’s rhythmic scatting (which interacts closely with the percussionists) has a memorable spot. “New Shapes” begins quietly, has close interplay between guitar, percussion and voice, and consists of several colorful sections. On “Playground” the guitarists trade off playful ideas throughout and utilize a childlike theme that fits the piece’s title.
“Flying Dragon” has a particularly catchy melody and a fairly simple structure over which the guitarists create some miraculous lines during their solos. A moody rhythmic pattern is the basis of “Corona Funk,” a performance that builds up in tension and passion quite effectively. “Bodhran’s Magic” is a jazz waltz with an Indian feel that features violinist Bisharat trading off with Miroshnichenko. On “Salvador” the two guitarists utilize the feeling of flamenco with a touch of gypsy swing while the closing “Simona’s Summer Samba” gives them an opportunity to play Brazilian samba in 7/8.
New Shapes is filled with variety and excitement. It features Roman Miroshnichenko and Henrik Andersen at their most inspired.
/ Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76 /