Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

After having tackled jazz standards on his previous outing, Allan Holdsworth returns to original compositions, although the feel of his fusion this time is more jazz than rock.

Holdsworth still wields his electric guitar and synthaxe mightily, but with a softer touch thanks to his all-acoustic rhythm section and the presence of trumpet on a couple of tracks.

"The Drums Were Yellow," for example, could easily be "The Drums Were Mellow." But that's not a bad thing, because Holdsworth's more laid-back approach allows him to be more expressive and reflective, which is not to say that he hasn't been either of those things even at his typical high velocities of playing.

This is a nice, pleasant, and easygoing – but no less impressive – album that sets the stage perfectly for the mostly synthaxe session that follows.

--Raj Manoharan

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