Original Release Date: 1979
Current Artist Site: http://www.bluemomentarts.de/bma/rbasho/en/visions.html
“The Art of the Acoustic Steel String Guitar” is the tenth Windham Hill release and the eleventh album by the artist. Because it varies somewhat stylistically from the direction that future Windham Hill albums would take, the label re-issued it under the “Lost Lake Arts” imprint as LL83.
Basho was a brilliant guitarist whose goal was to make the steel-string guitar an serious concert instrument. His work, more than others influenced William Ackerman as a guitarist. The music is admittedly and acquired taste for most, but repeated listenings will reward any who have interest in compelling and intense musicality.
Side One: 26:35
1. THE GRAIL AND THE LOTUS 6:36 – A Neo-Gothic construction for six string, combining East and West.
2 CATHEDRALS ET FLEUR DI LIS 7:00 – A 12th century French cathedral in the province with gardens, flowers and birds. Now comes a rainstorm, and hear the organ sounding within the church. After the rainstorm, doves flying from the cathedral windows, adn the immortal chimes.
3. PASHA II 6:33 – Islamic Hymn for the Goddess of the Rose
4. A STUDY FOR STEEL STRING 2:59 – Vivaldi and trumpets for six string guitar.
5. ACKERMAN SPECIAL 1:16 – German Rococo
6. APRES MIDI AMERICAN 1:56 – Nature Mood
Side Two: 24:42
1. VARIATIONS ON GRIEG 5:02 – A romance for six string in C tuning (the Sun Tuning)
2. SCOTTISH RITES 4:38 – A study for 12-string thinking of Vaughan Williams
3. PAVAN INDIA 7:11 – A mini-raga for 6 string
4. VARIATIONS ON EZUMI 4:03 – A guitar piece based upon a them by Kemio Ito
5. VARIATIONS ON CLAIRE DE LUNE 3:36 No one can ever match the Claire de Lune by Presti and La Goya ( a husband and wife team on Nonesuch) but I thought this 12-string version was a good way to end the evening.
It was in 1972 that I first heard Robbie Basho. Since that time I’ve been to hundreds of performances, but very few are as carved in my memory as that one. Only 50 or so people were in that tiny Berkeley rehearsal hall. I’d reviewed Robbie’s “Song of the Stallion” for Guitar Player Magazine, and he wanted me to hear hmi live. Frakly, I went to the concert out of courtesy. But I left a believer.
Robbie’s music has a way of totally captivating listeners, of enabling use to transcent our troubles, our daily concerns. We find ourselves in places we’ve perhaps never been, in times we probably never saw. WE get to experience those places and times, not with music that recreates bubbling brooks or galloping horses, but iwth performances that let us feel what Basho calls the “theatre” of America or India or generations poset or those to come.
The great classical guitarist, Andres Segovia, spent three decades before he was able to create a concert following for the solo guitar. Similarly, Robbie Basho is working to develop such an audience for the American steel string guitar. For nearly twenty years he has been touring the world to assimilate its diverse musical forms and instruments into his own approach toward the 6- and 12-string guitars. “My main desire,” he says, “is to establish the steel string as a concert instrument indigenous to America. To this end, Basho has refused to compromise his art in any way.
3 Replies to “WHS C-1010 Robbie Basho The Art of the Acoustic Steel String Guitar”
It is both unfortunate and somewhat ironic that Windham Hill dropped Robbie Basho when they did. Towards the end of his life he was signed by The Relaxation Company, a new age label through and through, and they released his final album, Twilight Peaks, on their cassette label The Art Of Relaxation. That album, Basho’s last, is incredibly beautiful and would most certainly have fit on on Windham Hill circa 1986. Oh well…
While the earlier album, Visions of the Country, fits your description of Basho’s work as “an acquired taste” very well, largely due to the vocals (which I still do not appreciate) this album is one I think many Windham Hill aficionados could really get into. All but one track of The Art of the Acoustic Steel String Guitar are instrumental and all are very listenable. Some are downright pretty. It’s almost criminal that this has never been reissued on CD. I did rip the vinyl to CDr and it is an album that I go back to often.
All the best,
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