Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence | April - May - June 2009
Aldcroft is an active and lively member of the Toronto Jazz
scene. This is my first exposure to him and I am happy to have
had the opportunity to review the CD at hand.
A solo guitar outing is a challenge to the artist. A guitar is
somewhere between a piano and a horn. It can and does lend itself
to harmonic complexities but nothing lies quite as easily on the
hands as does a piano (although of course there are things a great
pianist does that are far from ďeasyĒ to the average technician). The
guitar also lends itself to the textures and varieties of tone a horn
or woodwind can produce, but not entirely as a natural thing. The
guitar does not handle vocal qualities as a truly normal component
of its sounding. So the guitarist has to work harder to get the variety
of harmonic and tonal nuances that a solo concert demands. If suc-
cessful, it is very much so; if it doesnít come off it can be an incredible snore. Does maestro Aldcroft succeed? Read on.
The program begins with a rather electric, somewhat distorted
version of post-Bailey dissonances, then less distorted and more
thematic material. Playing around with a melodic fragment that
sounds like part of "Going Home" (Dvorak/Spiritual), Aldcroft then
expands outward to longer jagged phrases, then to strummed melo-
dies within dissonant chords.
He next adopts a mellower acoustic-electric tone and phrasing
that suggests traditional Jazz solo guitaróbut itís more dissonant
with less harmonically standard intervals. Aldcroft then plays along
with himself via looped phrases on a digital-delay device, building
some interesting moments of orchestral counterpoint. A thicker tex-
ture evolves with dampened strings and delay. The sound is almost
in the Surf modeóbut then gets widely dissonant with a large spec-
trum of pitch ranges. A more Fuzzy sound comes into play and then
he tops off the recital with an interesting bout of string tapping.
In sum Aldcroft shows good sense in creating a spontaneous,
very musical structure in what could otherwise have been an hour
of aimless noodling. It is one of the better avant solo guitar outings
Iíve heard in recent years and puts him in the rank of musicians to
watch and listen to expectantly in the time to come.