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New Guitar Summit
Shivers

Review By Steven Stone
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  Merely putting three great guitar players together doesn’t guarantee the results will qualify as music. All too often ego, lack of chemistry, or merely inadequate rehearsal time results in a stiff formulaic CD. Fortunately The New Guitar Summit CD, Shivers, avoids these pitfalls. Jay Geils, Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin have a level of simpatico that would make many longstanding bands envious.

This guitar trio first began playing together in 1997. Gerry Beaudoin says, “The three of us really like and respect each other. Jay and I play together every month, and when Duke gets together with us it really is like falling off a log.” Given Geils’ reputation as a bluesy rocker and Robillard’s penchant for postwar electric blues you might expect that the material on Shivers would be along these stylistic lines. But instead of updated versions of “Love Stinks” or “Route 66,” this album is populated by classic jazz numbers such as Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” and Benny Goodman’s “Flying Home.” Other material on Shivers comes from Gerry Beaudoin’s pen.  His four contributions all have a timeless feeling, and could have as easily been written in 1948 as 2008. The arrangements and orchestrations also harken back to post-swing and pre-bop 40’s and 50’s jazz. Most tracks have only drums, bass and guitars. Another notable aspect of Shivers is how each guitarist modified his signature personal style to fit within this musical context. Those familiar with J. Geils’ early work with the J. Geils Blues Band will be surprised to hear how different he plays on this CD. Nary a bent string or fuzz-tone laden note will you hear. The three guitarists also opted for harmonically rich archtop jazz guitar tones. Their guitars sound so similar that without the liner notes chart listing the solos order I doubt that many listeners could tell who was soloing when.

As if these three great guitarists weren’t enough, Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Randy Bachman does a guest spot on guitar and vocals on the Mose Allison tune “Your Mind is On Vacation.”  He, too, sublimates his signature rock and roll style for a more subdued and urbane delivery. The result is a version that would make its creator smile. Speaking of happy faces, the most endearing aspect of Shivers is how convincing the whole album sounds. These three players don’t merely TRY to do a retro guitar jazz album; they completely succeed.

 

 

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