Frank Gambale

Natural High

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Although marketed in guitar publications alongside the top "shredders" of the late '80s, Australian guitarist Frank Gambale certainly stood out from the pack. Although he favored the same guitar make as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani -- Ibanez -- Gambale was from the jazz fusion school, not the hard rock/heavy metal side of the tracks. After all, he first appeared on scene as part of Chick Corea's Elektric Band. And while his solo recordings from this era wouldn't sound completely out of place on The Late Show with David Letterman (1989's Thunder from Down Under certainly had a "Paul Shaffer flair"), by the early 21st century Gambale was ready to switch gears, as evidenced by 2006's Natural High. Picking up an acoustic guitar, the majority of the album is Gambale accompanied by just piano and bass, with percussion joining in on four of the album's nine tracks. There's some nifty guitar and bass interplay throughout the album, but especially on the album-opening "You Are All the Things," as well as "D's Living Room," while the self-explanatory "Scottish Highlands" is another highlight. If it's challenging jazz fusion that you're looking for, this isn't the place. But for relaxing, acoustic guitar-led jazz that would sound perfect in the background, Natural High is recommended.

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