Review of A Guitar Named Carla by Rüdiger Krause, Jazzwerkstatt, 2015
Can I say it? It was time! It was time that a guitar player took his time (and his troubles) to translate the music of the great Carla Bley for our six-stringed instrument that we love so much. This difficult and complex task has fallen to the German guitarist Rüdiger Krause who had to commit all his versatility and creativity in making this jazz’s record, yet so romantic, elegant and swinging. Behind this great project of transcription / translation there is the story, told with enthusiasm and passion by the same Krause in the booklet that accompanies the CD, of a young German musician who during the dark years of the DDR (for those too young and for those did not want to remember, the DDR was the puppet state created in Germany by the Soviet Union after the Second World War, reconnected with the Western counterpart after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet regime) had chosen as his personal musical and artistic icon Carla Bley, collecting all her records he could find, listening and recording every possible radio recording that could capture. Now, all of us had and still we have our heroes, our icons, especially from when we are young people, especially if we are very sensitive or if we live in a social and / or cultural difficulties, and they are a great help, and Krause came to call his first Fender Stratocaster just by the name of Carla, his heroine.
Personally, the first time that I came across Carla Bley was buying the Charlie Haden’s record “Liberation Music Orchestra” of 1970, Carla is the only woman in that group of 13 unforgettable musicians, many of which have disappeared and the picture on the cd’s cover shows her on the left holding proudly the banner with the title “Liberation Music Orchestra”. At those time she was 34 years old and she had her so special hairstyle. I remember thinking that she had to be a really tough to be part of that so ingenious and special ensamble of musicians.And I understood that Carla was a very particular musician and a songwriter after listening to her music, always so special, and her arrangements for big bands. In recent years I have often thought about how could these compositions, so rich and structured, be if they were performed by a solo guitar. Not an easy task, a challenge very difficult to accept.Rüdiger Krause on this record has chosen to perform and arrange eleven songs, among the most famous such as Time and Us, Real Life Hits, Musique Mecanicque III, Four Banana, Reactionary Tango, Escalation Over The Hill, etc, providing his arsenal of electric, classical, acoustic, baritone guitars and guitar synth plus any other electronic devilry over his fingers, his intelligence, his creativity and his sound for this record that occurs immediately as one of the most interesting things in this year.A Guitar Named Carla is, for me, a truly remarkable and courageous record, expressing Krause’s considerable talents, it is the realization of a creative dream cultivated with passion and slow and steady growth and determination, the risultat of an intense re-reading music and interpretation and transposition of the work of Bley by a large orchestra to the small orchestra that every guitar can become. Listen to it and be enchanted.