Men of Steel

Live: The Art of the Steel String Guitar

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Men of Steel is a supergroup of steel-string guitarists, the new acoustic version of jazz's the Great Guitars. Don Ross, Tony McManus, Beppe Gambetta, and Dan Crary are forces to be reckoned with as soloists, but together form a smart, vibrant quartet. The format of Live: The Art of the Steel-String Guitar shifts from piece to piece, allowing for solo performances, duets, and the inevitable foursome at the beginning, middle, and end of the album. There are energetic contemporary offerings, as with Ross' "Loaded. Leather. Moonroof.," and more traditional fare, as with McManus' "Bagpipe Tunes for Guitar." Ross is also a fine singer, and holds forth on solid renditions of Leadbelly's "The Titanic" and Charlie Monroe's "Long Journey Home." Crary's "In Flagrante" is perhaps the most evocative piece on the album, stretching out like a beautiful Sunday afternoon drive in the country, while Gambetta's interestingly titled "On the Road With Mama" is a tour de force of fancy picking. Live: The Art of the Steel-String Guitar closes with a nearly six-minute medley, providing the appropriate fireworks for the closer. Men of Steel, it seems, are just as colorfully brilliant on the live stage as they are in the studio, and fans will appreciate this lively concert memento.

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