Blue notes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am

This week's performances by the new guitar duo of Martin Taylor and Ulf Wakenius promise to be special.

The two musicians are coming to Hong Kong for two performances at the start of an Asian tour, the first on Friday at the Tom Lee Academy Hall at Mega Box in Kowloon Bay, with tickets priced at HK$280.

The second show on Saturday takes place in the more intimate atmosphere of the Skylark Lounge on Wyndham Street, where tickets will cost HK$320.

Wakenius was last here in 2009, accompanying Korean singer Youn Sun-nah. He enjoys working with other guitarists and has performed with Pat Metheny. He should also be able to find plenty of common ground with Taylor, with whom he has played before - although not on a regular basis.

Both guitarists are strongly influenced by Django Reinhardt and have performed in Gypsy jazz ensembles - Taylor with Spirit of Django and Wakenius with the Hot Club de Norv?ge.

There are differences as well though. Taylor is a mainstream player whose style owes little to fusion, while much of Wakenius' work is in that style, or reflects its influence.

That kind of combination can work well, as Metheny's duets with Jim Hall have demonstrated. The possibility of Taylor recording with Metheny has also been mooted, and the latter is a fan who calls him 'one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument'.

According to the promoter, Jazzworld's Clarence Chang, the intention on both nights is that Taylor and Wakenius should deliver solo sets, and then play the second half of the show as a duo.

This looks likely to be one of the musical highlights of the year, and both nights will be worth attending. Both performances start at 8pm, and tickets are available from the Skylark Lounge on 1/F Parekh House at 63 Wyndham Street, Central; Jazzworld in Room 806, Haleson Building, 1 Jubilee Street, Central; or by internet booking at www.tomleemusic.com.hk. The inquiries number is 2523 8292.

Take Three The guitar duet tradition goes back to Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson in the 1920s and several classic albums have been recorded in the format. Here are three of the best.

Two for the Road (1974, Pablo): Joe Pass' unaccompanied solo guitar playing in many ways established the precedent and laid foundations for Taylor's solo concert career. Pass also recorded guitar duets with longtime associate John Pisano, but this set with Herb Ellis remains his definitive recording in the format, with one of the few peers he had among his contemporaries. In common with Wakenius, Pass and Ellis had long associations with magnificent Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson.

Portraits (1996, Linn): Taylor in top form in both solo and duo formats, exchanging solos with Chet Atkins and his pre-recorded self. Taylor went on to make Double Standards in 2008, on which he double-tracks his parts on all tracks. More guitar duet CD recordings featuring other players have been promised, so possibly the collaboration with Wakenius will be documented.

Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (1998, Telarc): a thoughtful and enjoyable exchange of ideas between two of the finest jazz guitar players of two different generations.


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