Ernesto Diaz-Infante

Rags and Stones

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Recording details for this duo session between guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante and violinist/cellist Bob Marsh remain undisclosed, but it obviously happened in the studio. Rags and Stones contains nine improvisations of the very abstract kind. Diaz-Infante is in fine form, his playing on prepared acoustic guitar as varied and challenging as ever. Marsh is a less-compelling player. First he sounds too far in the mix, which tends to alienate his contribution. His playing recalls Nigel Coombes in the late '70s and early '80s (when he was in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble): short, fragmented lines anchored in mid-air. His performance on cello in the closer, "Dance of the Bear Clan," is his best moment, rich in minute gestures. Fans of British free improv will probably find a lot to like in Rags and Stones (Diaz-Infante has integrated the music of Derek Bailey and Roger Smith), but it pales in comparison to Wires & Wooden Boxes, the guitarist's second duo session with Chris Forsyth. It felt more involved and was better recorded. Still, "North East South West" and the "Ceremony" suite contain challenging free improv the likes of which are rarely heard on the U.S. West Coast.

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