Review of Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets by Henry Kaiser, Fractal Music, 2017
“One of my most favorite recording and performing formats is the guitar duet. I have been fortunate to record with many heroes of mine, who became my friends; as well as with friends who have become heroes. That’s what’s being celebrated here. I have selected some unreleased tracks for this release, as well as out-of-print items from various ancient recording from my 40 years of album recordings. ”
Sometimes, during my interviews, I like to ask to guitarists how their musical methodology is influenced by the community of people (musicians and not) with whom they collaborate and how they come to change their musical approachs in relation to what they directly or indirectly receive from those communities. I always find it a very interesting question: I believe that every man is a social animal and, with all respect for the romantic image of the sensitive and lonely musician, his actions and decisions are constantly influenced by the world, the people, from the community it frequents and in which it lives. Since music itself is a social activity, often produced by interaction between musicians and their different instruments, the interactions between members of a band, an ensemble, an orchestra are an integral part of the end result. An aspect, however, has rarely been highlighted except for sensationalist purposes (especially in rock and jazz music). This “Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets” album by the great Henry Kaiser allows us to better understand what can happen when a guitarist decides to play in duo with other guitarists, each of them featuring a specific and unmistakable style, sound and musical attitude.
Here is the list of musicians with whom Kaiser played and recorded between 1979 and 2017 on this CD, and is really impressive: Derek Bailey (1993), Debashish Bhattacharaya (2017), Fred Frith (1979), Knut Reiersrud (1997), Elliott Sharp (2017), Eugene Chadbourne (1997), Davey Williams (1991), Sandy Ewen (2013), Chris Muir (2017), Ian Brighton (2017), Nels Cline (2010), Jim O’Rourke 1977), Roberto Zorzi (1997), Bill Frisell (1985), John Russell (2007).
They are all of a kind, but what I found most interesting is how Kaiser can interact with them adapting to their respective styles, creating new and different ideas in each new track: cooperation and mutual exchange seem to be the keys to interpretation of this excellent cd, showing a Kaiser and his colleagues at the top of the creative form. A great job.
I suggest you to read the notes written by Kaiser himself, for each of the fifteen songs that make up this beautiful cd.