On Kevin Kastning’s latest release we find him on his favoured 36-string Double Contraguitar, and he has been joined this time by Internationally acclaimed Boston-based jazz pianist and composer Laszlo Gardony who is Professor of Piano at Berklee College of Music and also teaches at Harvard University’s Jazz Combo Initiative. I think this is the first time I have heard Kevin working with a pianist, and he has found a perfect foil is Laszlo who is very much in tune with the guitarist, as they inspire each other to create something which can be as delicate as raindrops or as powerful as a storm.
Recorded in a single day in a Maine summer last year, the six pieces have been culled from the improvisation which took place in the studio that day, and given the name of the album I am sure there is more to follow. I have always found Kevin’s guitarwork to be fascinating due not only to the breadth of sounds at his disposal, but also in the way he brings them to life. This is not someone randomly picking at 36 strings to create something which may or may not be musical, but an artist who knows exactly what he wants to achieve and has the skills to do just that. Gardony is also not one to sit back, and while he can create swathes of sounds for Kastning to pitch against, he is also more than prepared to take the lead, adding flourishes here and there as he challenges the other to respond in kind. As with many of Kastning’s works, it is the second playthrough where the beauty really begins to shine, as it takes a while to reset the brain and get inside the head of the players, but once in tune this is an album which is an absolute delight.
I have heard quite a few of Kastning’s albums in recent years, and this is probably the most enjoyable to date as not only is it highly musical, but there is plenty of space while the two musicians often seem almost as one, as if this had been highly scored as opposed to coming out of the ether. If you have yet to hear music from either, then this is a great place to start.