Stef Burns / Peppino d'Agostino

Bayshore Road

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In a pairing that could probably only take place on a label owned by a visionary guitar legend, Steve Vai and Favored Nations' historic summit between two of the world's most renowned guitarists -- one an acoustic improvisational legend, the other an electric virtuoso -- lives up to its remarkable promise. Beginning with the snappy, midtempo, improv-rich title track (named for the street where they share a studio north of San Francisco), the collection celebrates the melodic and rhythmic joys of both guitars, as well as one of the instrumental world's most inspiring creative friendships and partnerships. There's a rich back story to the partnership, but suffice to say that the tandem was more than just a clever marketing ploy. Though the two are known in different worlds with different axes, they share a common ground in their love of blues and the Beatles, and their affinity for jazz -- typified by their crisp, ultra-percussive twist on the classic "Birdland" -- fits right in the mix. The best originals here include the mystical and dusty cowboy flick-flavored "Better World," the contemplative ballad "Inner Sanctuary," a romantic visit to Brazil called "Manha de Carnaval," and a crazy and fun bluegrass jam curiously named "Jerry's Breakdown." The disc prompted a successful tour of Italy, where Stef Burns is very popular, in early 2005.

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