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April 18, 2006

Jazz CD Review Marc Atkinson Trio

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz cd review

CD Review / Jazz Instrumental
Marc Atkinson Trio / Mark Atkinson Trio III
Independent / 2005

West coast guitarist/composer Marc Atkinson’s third release, the self-titled Marc Atkinson Trio III is a gem of a recording and another fine example of the enormous talent our fair nation produces. Featuring the gypsy jazz sound the artist has become famous for, the CD offers ten originals and two standards in this string based acoustic trio format.

Atkinson is a versatile guitarist who displays a strong grasp of multiple idioms, boasts outstanding technique, and a fluent, graceful style. He’s also a composer of note, with an individual voice that draws on the influences of the greats of jazz, blues, and gypsy music, and brings them to light in his modern approach. His style is lyrical and oh-so-musical, it’s no small wonder the man is gaining international recognition. The trio is formed by the artist, rhythm guitarist Chris Frye, and bassist Joey Smith (who also arranged the two standards that appear on the recording), and the three work hand in glove to produce one seamless unit.

Recorded live off the floor, the production value on this CD is first-rate, but more importantly is a genuine reflection of the strength of this group’s sound in concert. With it’s gypsy guitar feel reminiscent of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club era, this is happy music that will leave you feeling uplifted and rejuvenated.

Opening with “A Fire In the Rain”, the track begins with a bowed bass supporting Atkinson’s acoustic guitar for this spanish influenced cut. Moving into an up-tempo latin feel, Atkinson presents a contemporary sound in a traditional style, at once soothing and stimulating. “String Bustin’ Rag” is a delight, capturing the essence of ragtime music, typically a piano based format. Atkinson et al render it in a smooth guitar-based format, and produce another great example of the fire within the artist’s compositional talents. Roger’s & Hart’s “Where or When” begins with a dramatic intro, and showcases the arranging talents of bassist Smith on this classic of songwriting. “Stolen Blues” sees the guitarist using his instrument in a rhythmic fashion as he taps the body of the guitar in accompaniment to his fine picking style on the latin influenced track. Rhythm player Frye shines on this tune as he provides the perfect counterpoint for Atkinson’s guitar. My personal favourite is “Albinoni’s Bolero”, a passionate, rich honour piece that pulls the Baroque composer’s vision into a contemporary world with it’s tremolo and long, sensuous lines. “Dunsmuir Road” enters the meditative world of New Age with it’s sparse feel transporting the listener to another dimension in the arms of a gentle embrace. Each and every track offers beauty, grace, and highly accomplished performances by these three quality musicians.

The Marc Atkinson Trio is quickly headed for superstar status, and their third release further cements their place in the pantheon of great Canadian music. Run, don’t walk to the nearest record store (or better yet visit their website) and buy all three of this virtuosic trio’s work. Be sure to pick up concert tickets while you’re at it, it won’t be long until they have so many international engagements that opportunities to hear them live will become rarer for Canadians.

Cindy McLeod
www.jazzelements.com

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