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Concert's contrasting guitar styles.

On Saturday night BBC 2 screened the Woody Allen film Sweet And Lowdown, about a scapegrace 1930s jazz guitarist.

A couple of hours earlier, Huddersfield Jazz had featured the American jazz guitar virtuoso Howard Alden, the man who provided the guitar licks for Emmet Ray, played by Sean Penn in the movie.

It was an interesting coincidence, and the affable Alden played a couple of numbers from the soundtrack of Sweet And Lowdown, demonstrating that he is as much in debt to Django Reinhardt as the character in the film.

But the gig was not exclusively anchored in 1930s jazz styles, although they were perhaps predominant. We heard Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessell numbers, for example, plus standards by the likes of Gershwin and Ellington that seem to stand outside jazz time.

Alden was the dominant figure at the gig but the quartet co-featured the British guitarist Dave Cliff. More usually, a guitar soloist would be joined by a horn or a violin, and there was a danger that wall-to-wall guitar soloing would have been too much of a good thing.

Fortunately, there was sufficient contrast in the approaches of Alden and Cliff to keep up interest. The former was more extravagant in his approach, playing superfast runs, using harmonics intriguingly and employing the extra bass course on his seven-string guitar to good effect. The more relaxed Cliff sometimes adopted a subtly interesting harmonic approach.

Meanwhile, drummer Steve Brown played with verve and bassist Simon Woolf displayed a melodic approach in his solos.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 3, 2006
Words:253
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