Jason Vieaux

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Guitarist Jason Vieaux, born in Buffalo, trained in Cleveland, and now recording for the Cleveland-based Azica label, is a pure product of the American Midwest. This is not known as fertile ground for producing classical guitarists, and it's not surprising that his releases (11 of them as of the appearance of this album in 2014) are unorthodox. Crossover instincts among classical guitarists are nothing new, but Vieaux has struck a new and eclectic, intimate note, with the likes of jazzman Pat Metheny finding space beside the classical and Latin American standards. He's been called a guitarist whose instrument happens to be a classical guitar. Vieaux here covers the well-trodden ground of the Latin American guitar recital, but he once again puts his own stamp on the proceedings with unusual pieces like a selection from the soundtrack to The Deer Hunter, Duke Ellington's In a Sentimental Mood, and António Carlos Jobim's A Felicidade. Even within the more conventional selections Vieaux has a confident feel of his own; he seems to move comfortably between national traditions, as if introducing them to a small gathering. His execution on the guitar is clean and graceful. Perhaps the single best thing about the album is the sound: tiny Azica, working in an unspecified location, achieves a natural guitar resonance that puts listeners up close to the guitarist but not, as with so many other recordings, inside the guitar. There's an X factor in this recording, coming from its relaxed eclecticism, that makes it very appealing.

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