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Pete Oxley / Nicolas Meier - 2019 - "The Alluring Ascent"

(67:49; MGP Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. The Austin Bar 5:14
2. The Gift 7:35
3. East Coast Joys 7:05
4. Manzanita Samba 6:29
5. September Song 7:20
6. Our Homeland 6:19
7. Autumn Enters 6:24
8. The Key of Klimt 7:38
9. Walk in the Sky 5:56
10. Our Beautiful Frantic Lives 7:49


Pete Oxley - guitars
Nicolas Meier - guitars
Raph Mizraki - bass, darbuka
Paul Cavaciuti - drums
Keith Fairbairn - percussion

Prolusion. UK guitarist Pete OXLEY and Swiss, UK-based guitarist Nicolas MEIER are both renowned names in the world of music, Oxley with a number of different projects from the early 1980's and onward, while Meier started out around a decade later, and has his own jazz band, have played with the likes of Jeff Beck and also has a side career as the guitarist and leader of nu-metal band Seven7. The two guitarists started cooperating a few years back, and have so far released four studio albums featuring their collaborative efforts. "The Alluring Ascent" is the most recent of these, and was issued through UK label MGP Records in 2019.

Analysis. Guitars have been central on the albums this fine duo have created so far, and that continues to be the case this time around as well. Jazz and jazz-rock are the styles this album revolves around, one slight exception aside, and the material is all instrumental. Those well acquainted with their previous albums of this partnership won't be in for any large surprises here, as this is pretty much a case of more of the same. Which, of course, isn't really a bad thing at all for those who enjoy this type of music. The songs on this album have a tendency to alternate, with relatively calmer songs placed in between more energetic ones. This creates a nice ebb and flow character to the album experience as a whole, which on a few occasions are replicated in the songs themselves. And as for the sound of those songs, they are as easy to explain as they are difficult. As with the previous albums by this twosome, subtle details and nuances is the name of the game here. Generally speaking, we have either slower or more energetic creations where the guitarists showcase their skills and their ears for appealing melodies in a few different manners. Plucked, wandering solo runs with a gentler guitar support being an obvious and expected presence, and the occasional dual guitar harmonics are rather expected as well I guess. Throw in some passages with a more intricate and interwoven display, with both guitarists supplementing each other, and we are pretty much covered as for the broader details. All along backed by a steady rhythm section, and one given space and room to be expressive when suitable as well. The mood and atmosphere of the material is to some degree dictated by the pace. The pacier compositions have more of a joyful and positive sheen to them, while the slower and gentler has a tendency to be more melancholic, as well as by and large being much closer to jazz than to jazz-rock. Both due to pace, but also due to the supporting rhythm section then opting for a more distinct jazz-oriented mode of delivery. Exotic and unusual tones and timbres are used here and there for greater variation, mainly by way of using tones and scales of an Eastern or possibly Arabian origin, but also by adding folk music and Americana elements to their excursions. Most prominently found on opening cut 'The Austin Bar', but also with a slight tip of the hat in that direction towards the end of concluding composition ' Our Beautiful Lives'. Just like the previous three albums by this fine duo, the music is difficult to describe in an accurate manner. Small changes and alterations is a key element throughout, and the manner in which these take place is something that needs to be experienced rather than being described by mere words. Other than that, I note that everything is really well assembled and executed throughout. An album without any obvious weaknesses, apart from being perhaps a tad too uniform.

Conclusion. If you are among the people that really and truly enjoy instrumental jazz and instrumental jazz-rock, the albums by Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier should be on your list of material that merits a check, and in particular if you enjoy such endeavors to be mainly performed by acoustic guitars and backed by a competent rhythm section. A certain fascination for world music elements is a bonus, but a strong fascination for skilled guitar performances in jazz and jazz-rock territories is the most vital ingredient needed to enjoy this fine album.

Progmessor: August 31th 2019
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Pete Oxley / Nicolas Meier MGP Records


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