Sain Clawhammer CLAW-001
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Tev Stevig was raised in California and studied jazz guitar at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. I mention this because you won’t hear much of that on Jeni Jol. The phrase is Macedonian Roma and means “the new path,” an interesting choice since the solo guitar and banjo pieces feel (and often are) old. Stevig mines Turkish, Greek, and Balkan tunes for an album, but his is not a revivalist’s collection; in fact, the mood and style are evocative of John Renbourn’s world music forays. Like Renbourn, Stevig uses short bass runs to set up liquid melody cascades. He prefers dance cadences and the fluidity of his phrasing evokes the elegance of dance. The album’s dozen tracks are pretty evenly divided among original material that sounds ancient, traditional tunes of unknown provenance, and Turkish composers–especially those of Erkan Oğur. He also sometimes uses an African clawhammer and frailing banjo styles on fretless guitar. The Balkans are the direct inspiration, but unless you listen closely, you might think of it as Renaissance court music that migrated south and east. It is a lovely album for background music, quiet contemplation, or serious listening. Methinks quite a few guitar pickers will develop serious envy from listening to this superb recording.