Various Artists

Guitar Zone

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Opening with fret master Andy Summers (the Police), "Monk Hangs Ten" (from Synaesthesia), Guitar Zone sets itself out as a daring and perceptive overview of the most expansive and important work done with guitar composition. Each track is off a full-length CMP release. This is no exhibition of mere solo guitar -- each piece is equally demanding of all the instruments involved. The Summers piece relies heavily on the talents of drummer Gregg Bissonette and keyboardist Mitchel Forman. This example of contemporary progressive rock is well mated with another state of the art creation that shows off guitarist Allan Holdsworth and drummer Chad Wackerman. Not everything is over the top and born of modern studio capabilities, though -- the duo of Miroslav Tadic (guitar and classical slide guitar) and Mark Nauseef (drums and gongs) gives a sparse, skeletal piece whose serpentine undulations nicely reflect the title of its source album, The Snake Music. Inexplicably, Jack Bruce is given three tracks here. Because Bruce works with excellent personnel (Eric Clapton and the ex-Zappa Fowler Brothers horn section) his keyboard-drenched forays sound too '80s compared to the rest of the selections. Also unforgettable is the ubiquitous Bill Frisell joining Wayne Horvitz (organ) and Michael Shrieve (drums). Guitarist extraordinaire Nicky Skopelitis puts the sounds of over a half-dozen instruments into one three-minute song for a very hopeful and positive-sounding piece. David Torn makes a one-man show on "Spell Breaks with the Weather." Here "guitars and guitar-like thingies" soar magnificently above deep, deep bass sounds. Also present is Bernie Worrell (Hammond B-3) and Buckethead (guitar) on the requiem-like "The Mask." All 16 tracks push the limits of guitar possibility.

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