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All About Jazz

 

Music you can live with When trying to move forward to confront a day full of too many obstacles, "By Myself" creates a mental pathway that both encourages and relaxes. The songs combine a sense of improvisation with a smoothness and consistency that's at once fresh and distinctive. The melodies live through a variety of permutations-- but always come out clean in the end. Best of all, the music creates a landscape where you just know things will work out all right in the end. When too much of what's "modern" and "new" sounds like screaming--it's a privilege to sit back and listen quiet, intelligent voice that only seems to seek to "be itself.” - Beleaguered Analyst "Dennis Drogseth"

Amazon.com

All Aboard  A deft touch and gentle fingering technique that coaxes a soft, understated but powerfully deliberate clarion tone that at times drips like syncopated honeyed wine; and seems a half beat behind the languid compositional melody to pleasurable effect. At the best of times the guitar is a conveyance device, and with Mr. Rich at the helm, the journey is adventurously exotic and satisfying  ” - rangerbear2

iTunes

With By Myself, Charley Rich displays a seemingly boundless ability to reanimate a broad variety of guitar styles.  The only knock on the project, as its title suggests, is that Rich occasionally could have used a few more voices in the room to help flesh out his sound.  Still, those quibbles are few, and his sweeping facility with the project’s showcase instrument remains a wonder to behold. Rich, a longtime member of the Long Island group Sun Moon and Stars who studied privately with jazz notables Joe Monk and Harry Leahy, opens amidst a pastoral stroll on “Disoholirag.” But even as the track unfolds with an easy-going gait, Rich takes a solo that another thing entirely – riffy like Wes Montgomery to start, and then finishes on a run as crying and ruminative as anything David Gilmour ever did.  When he returns to the song’s main theme, it’s with a touch more sadness. “Friend,” meanwhile, skips along with a light-hearted joy, allowing Rich an opportunity to tap into the homey vibe of Eric Clapton’s 1970s solo recordings.  His solo, this time, even includes some of the simmering blues inflections that have so long been associated with Slowhand.  His playing on “Fine” has a West Coast jazz feel, urbane and cool, situated over an ageless pop hook. Tracks like “Once a Long Time Ago” and “Time Again,” in keeping with their poignant titles, finds Rich doubling on guitar, and each line tells an ever-intriguing story of hushed reminiscence.  A tasteful string arrangement on the former only adds to the track’s stately grandeur.  “Daybreak” moves from a similar quietude into a country-inflected showcase for Rich’s fleet fingering. The quick-stepping, layered “Madeira” may be the album’s high point, so deft and involving are Rich’s statements on the guitar.  Combining rockabilly, jazz and folk styles, he creates a new synthesis of affecting sounds – something fresh out of the familiar.  My only complaint might be that, at 2:11, it’s far too short.  This thrilling journey through American music styles could have gone on forever. “RiverFalls” returns to a loping, far more straight-forward Americana feel, but Rich ably fills these wide open spaces, too – first with a series of warm and woody asides on the guitar, and then with a synthesized flute-like accompaniment.  Unfortunately, that kind of electronic backing is often devoid of the human interaction that gives music its connective resonance.  In keeping, there are times when it isn’t always as successful across the breadth of By Myself. “Wondering,” though it echoes the other, more completely realized moments when this album swings brightly, might have been a more complete success if Rich hadn’t chosen to go it alone on these sessions.  After yet another smart turn on the guitar, the song becomes distracted with these oddly placed outbursts from something that sounds like a computer-generated accordion. When Rich, a former student at the Berklee College of Music, deftly channels the romanticism of Duane Allman on “Feathers and Pearls,” his one-man-band musical format can’t match the rhythmic energy of those ageless turn-of-the-1970s sides.  Of course, Rich continues to display a pleasantly distracting artistry throughout, but the interplay of a flesh-and-blood rhythm section would have made a world of difference here.  Similarly, the keyboard-generated horns on “If the Sun Don’t Shine, the Squirrels Don’t Dance” and the closing “Mythology” throw off the momentum of two otherwise enjoyably lithe groovers. That said, those final two tracks certainly hold plenty of other musical delights, in particular Rich’s tangy asides on the organ.  He swings like mad, too, on the guitar.  All he needs is a few more friends to join in the studio fun next time. Artist: Charley Rich Album: By Myself Reviewer: Nick DeRiso Rating: 4 (out of 5)” - Nick DeRiso

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