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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 “easy” 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 doesn’t 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 guitar—but it’s 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 mode—but 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 I’ve heard in recent years and puts him in the rank of musicians to watch and listen to expectantly in the time to come.