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(179:57; MGP Records)
Track list: Magnificent: 1. Mesudiye 6:49 2. Semur's Bridge 6:20 3. Hip 6:22 4. Stories from the Garden 7:45 5. Sous Le Ciel De Fribourg 5:04 6. Villa Olivio 7:36 7. The Pond 6:50 8. Under an Olive Tree 8:27 Live: 1. Manzanita Samba 8:18 2. Besiktas Cafe 5:50 3. Caravan of Anatolia 9:44 4. City of 3 Rivers 9:04 5. Riversides 8:45 6. Princes' Islands 7:54 7. Water Lillies 8:18 8. Tales 6:13 9. Adiguzel 9:28 Stories: 1. La Vie En Rose 3:21 2. Blues for Alice 2:31 3. The Godfather 3:41 4. Kismet 6:06 5. Mona Lisa 3:23 6. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat / Brush with the Blues 3:21 7. My Foolish Heart 2:26 8. October in Ankara 4:51 9. Nothing Else Matters 3:45 10. C'est Si Bon 2:47 11. Sous Le Ciel De Fribourg 3:27 12. Night & Day 3:06 13. Stories from the Garden 4:18 14. Esmeralda 4:07 LINEUP: Nicolas Meier - guitars, glissentar Kevin Glasgow - bass Richard Jones - violin Demi Garcia Sabat - percussion
Prolusion. UK based composer and musician Nicolas Meier has become quite the creative force in jazz and world music circles in recent years, with numerous albums released either as a solo artist, as a part of a collaboration or through his band Nicolas Meier World Group. His most recent production is the album "Magnificent" with Nicolas Meier World Group, which is the third album by this band unit in the same amount of years. As with many other of Meier's albums it is released through the label MGP Records.
Analysis. First and foremost it needs to be stated that "Magnificent", at least in the physical release format, isn't one album but rather one new album with two albums previously released in digital form that have also been given a physical version here. A grand total of three albums in other words. Besides "Magnificent" those albums are "Live", also by Nicolas Meier World Group, and "Stories", which is a standalone solo album by Nicolas Meier. The new album here, "Magnificent", has it's foundation firmly placed in a world music context somewhere, with Eastern and Middle-Eastern tones, timbres and rhythm details dominating the proceedings in a stylish and elegant manner in songs that range from careful melancholia to joyful and uplifting vibrant energy in mood and atmosphere. Gliding violin textures, wandering plucked guitar solo runs and a careful but expressive bass, drums and percussion presence are the main elements throughout. Some passages will take on more of a jazz-oriented mode at times though, with gypsy jazz being my main association in that department. Always solid and occasionally breathtaking, this is a production fans of instrumental jazz and world music really should take the time to inspect, as it is, indeed, magnificent. The album "Live" is also by Nicolas Meier World Group, and not all that surprisingly the material covered here is of a similar nature as what we find on the studio album "Magnificent". In this case with a different set of songs explored though, as this live album predates the studio album already described. But the landscapes explored and the manner in which the songs are set up are fairly similar, with some being more jazz-oriented in execution and others more driven by world music elements. The songs here are perhaps ever so slightly more careful in terms of pace and intensity, which might just be a result of this being a live performance of course. But again music that is breathtaking at it's very best, and even the least interesting numbers are solid and engaging. The concluding disc of this 3 CD strong production is the solo album "Stories" by Nicolas Meier, which is a much different creation than the World Group productions. For starters the songs here feature Meier alone with his various guitars, with some studio overdubs here and there if I'm not much mistaken, and some of the songs featured here are cover songs rather than Meier originals as well. Musically this album also stretch a bit further to some extent, but also with a more narrow orientation, as the dividing lines between acoustic rock, acoustic jazz, acoustic world music and classical guitar music can be a subtle one indeed, and more often than not the songs here will drift in and out of those four dimensions. To how great an extent will probably be a matter of subjective opinion. I should perhaps also add that I presume some of the guitars used on "Stories" are clean and undistorted electric guitars rather than solely acoustic ones, but I use the acoustic description to uncomplicate matters.
Conclusion. If you have an interest in instrumental guitar music, this album is worth exploring. Much the same is the case if instrumental world music is within your field of interest, and fans of instrumental jazz should also take note of this production. Especially those with a fascination for the guitar as a lead instrument. "Magnificent" as an album experience is a solid one with many moments of brilliance to enjoy, and those who opt for the physical version of the album get two more albums of high quality, solid music just about as good as the lead album here. If you treasure the guitar as an instrument or tend to enjoy instrumental jazz or instrumental world music this is an album you should take the time to explore. It's as easy as that really.
Progmessor: October 2021
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