Davy Graham

Fire in the Soul

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Compiled from recordings made during his peak in the late '60s, Fire in the Soul shows most of the breadth of Graham's range, from the folk of his composition "Angi," once the benchmark for any aspiring guitarist, to his jazz feel on versions of Herbie Hancock's standard "Watermelon Man" or Sonny Rollins' "Sunny Moon for Two." But he goes much further. Every tune becomes an exploration, from the modalities of the traditional "Bruton Town," which venture much farther afield than English folk, or a rippling run through "Money Honey." While any Graham recording is a tour de force, this is one of the best examples of his striking ability, both as an interpreter and improviser. Lalo Schifrin's "The Fakir," for example, is a springboard for a jaunt through Indian scales, while "Hornpipe for Harpsichord" is a nimble exercise is unusual time signatures. So, too, is "Bulgarian Dance," an excursion into the Balkans that stands far ahead of its time in its world music outlook. But like his contemporary, Sandy Bull, Graham never lets himself be restricted by genres. His guiding star is what's in his head, and that can take him anywhere. While the longest piece here is just over four minutes, he packs an awful lot into a short time. What others take 20 minutes to achieve, Graham can manage in three. Whether it's a short, skewed take on "Oliver!" or Dylan's "Down Along the Cove," Graham is a master of it all -- the boss, beyond question, and far beyond doubt.

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