Return of the Hydra follows on Michael Coppola's exceptional first album, Enter the Hydra. "Hydra" is Coppola's nine-stringed axe, named after the nine-headed monster of Greek mythology. Starting out as an eight-stringed instrument, which is innovative in and of itself, Coppola added another string, which makes it sound as if he is providing his own bass accompaniment, especially when he plays a cappella, as on "Stars Fell on Alabama." The guitarist finds himself once again in a trio setting, albeit with different musical buddies than on the first album. On first hearing, the uninitiated would swear that a rhythm guitar is also part of the group, so much music and resonance does Coppola get from his instrument. One might also conclude that given this capacity, there is really no need for a bass, since the ninth string can assume that responsibility. Bass player Nunno dispels that as he plays underneath the chordal foundation laid down by Coppola. Electricity has been added to the bass so that its voice is not drowned out by the guitar. The advantages this addition provide are reaped on such cuts as "All About Ronnie," where the interaction between guitar and bass seems intuitive. The play list is standards plus two Coppola originals, all played so that the music seems to shimmer like sunlight on a pond on a summer day, even when the players are extemporizing and there is a considerable amount of that at this session. The drums of Kurt Berglund are generally unobtrusive. But his exchange with both Coppola and Nunno on "Superfoot" and "Another Way" earn him his keep. This second album indicates that Coppola is in no way affected by the sophomore jinx. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan