“The Lonely Road” – David Becker, Released: Apr 27, 2015
℗ 2015 Acoustic Music GmbH & Co. KG, Arndtstr. 20, 49080 Osnabrück
Economics effects art in ways that most people would never think of: consider the looper pedal. In my opinion, looper pedals would never have been invented if it wasn’t economically impossible for most performers to pay a large band on their gigs, so many artists use loopers to auto-play elements of a song as they perform. It’s common to see indie rock, folk etc. artists to use loopers, but more and more, a lot of jazz musicians have been using them, especially guitarists. David Becker’s new CD “The Lonely Road” shows how he uses loopers – and many other creative devices – to give him a large musical palette to use on solo gigs.
The title track “The Lonely Road” builds up the soundscape of the tune possibly using a looper playing a pre-recorded arpeggiated guitar part as “bed” that Becker can add and subtract parts to and from as he plays. Beckers’ melody is very memorable, and I can see this as being the track that gets the radio airplay from the CD. Things then hit the point where Becker can solo over the form on top of everything before returning to the melody, eventually settling into a wistful vamp out that he tastefully colors as it fades – very nice.
This is followed by the standard “My Foolish Heart” is more the regular part and parcel of a solo jazz guitar gig. It’s a very nice arrangement and he exhibits a beautiful touch on the instrument and cool finger-picked flourish swirls as well.
Speaking of finger-picking, “Ellie’s Joy” is a gorgeous depiction of childlike innocence in the form of an almost jazz-bluegrass piece that he many times achieves a sort of hammered dulcimer effect. This is really cool and shows someone who spends a lot of time playing an acoustic guitar.
“Blues For Waldo” is another looper extravaganza starting with Becker improvising a chordal blues chorus that he will eventually use to play the tunes melody and solo over. The melody is a very hip line in an odd meter that wraps around the 4/4 and then winds up on beat one at the end of it’s phase, which then gets repeated over the other changes in the tune. This is a very cool “head” I could see catching on and a lot of people using on their gigs, as it’s pretty fascinating to hear it work against the 4/4 and is the kind of thing that most people in an audience would gravitate towards. Becker plays a very hip swinging solo full of a lot of intervallic things that his old friend and mentor Joe Diorio would be proud to hear come out of his guitar.
“Seat 3A”, most probably named after an airline seat assignment, is a looper tour-de-force; starting with Becker setting up a high pitched groove picking a string behind his guitar’s bridge. The hypnotic groove and catchy melody grow, and then Becker calls on another of his signature tools for his gigs: a sitar effect that he gets by lacing some paper between the strings in the picking area of the guitar.
“Above The Clouds” is a melancholy vignette using lots of great rubato chordal arpeggiation. An echo drenched slide guitar in the backgound adds beautifully to the mood of this one, and is a nice portrait of the lonely artist on the road. His version of “Corcovado” is a quick tempoed but gentle reading of the classic, showing a lot of finesse and control of the harmony.
“Neva” is a very cool layering of tracks over a conga loop, eventually building to a beautiful melody. This is probably his coolest single line solo on the record with some very hip lines over a very fun chord progression to improvise on.
“Solitude” starts with a beautiful “banjo-rolled” finger picked pattern very reminiscent of some of the solo pieces Pat Metheny does on his Picasso Guitar. This track probably more than any of the other pieces here shows the power and beauty of what can be done on an acoustic guitar in the right hands with a really nice mic and reverb unit.
“Bud’s Last Toodaloo” is his wave goodbye on the CD. A very beautiful and powerful ballad as well, it is a great example of a really well played solo big box electric jazz guitar recording.
Get it at iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-lonely-road/id989727592
For more on David Becker, go to: http://www.davidbeckertribune.com/
Doug Perkins for JGS, Dec 1, 2015