FAME Review - The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead by Aussie guitarist Albare once again travels to high ground.

I mentioned in a previous review, I forget which, that the Enja label is a very interesting one but an imprint that can be as baffling as it is rewarding. It's famed for owner Matthias Winckelman's variegated tastes and in '92 issued one of the best modern guitar CDs, Nels Cline's unknown Silencer (whoops! excuse me a minute, I have to get a paper towel, my mouth waters every time I think of that disc), a collection that reminds me of John McLaughlin's early work, but Enja has also released a bunch of slabs that I've never been able to wrap my ears around. Well, with The Road Ahead by Aussie guitarist Albare (Albert Dadon), it once again travels to high ground.

Albare's highly regarded in his homeland, and this CD's all you need to know why. Airy and melodic throughout, it atmospherically embraces the fusion era of the 60s and 70s with grace, intelligence, mellifluous sinuousness, and a raft of influences ranging from Martino to Szabo to Metheny to Akkerman to Jan Schaeffer. What really strikes my ears, though, are the compositions themselves and the quartet's handling of them—not just the playing in and of itself but the amount of thought given to create an unflagging multi-leveled timbre. To understand that fairly esoteric claim, I'll refer FAME listeners to The Gift, a 6:47 bonanza giving bassist Yunior Terry and drummer Pablo Bencid a lot of room to open up the charts while Albare twists the main line this way and that, pianist Phil Turcio remaining in the background (heard to excellent effect elsewhere).

No Love Lost is an Albare-dominated cut, reeking with his extremely compelling individualistic fingerings just before the rest of the crew goes to work, Turcio inserting delicate chords (one of his strengths lies in subtle comping) here, there, and elsewhere. The disc starts out with Road Ahead Part A and ends with Part B, the most abstract and spaciest cut of the offering, a track struggling between lethean phantasms and morning tendrils of the real world, and that's right where it stays as the gents refuse to take the easy way out and resolve lo-level tensions. In that, it's somewhat like an Alice Coltrane piece, especially in her Illuminationsmasterpiece, but also as though a long-lost track rescued from Gabor Szabo's prime Mizrab era.

Track List:

  • Road Ahead, Pt. A (Albare)
  • Intro to Give Me 5 (Albare / Turcio)
  • Give Me 5 (Albare / Turcio)
  • Intro to the Gift (Albare)
  • The Gift (Albare)
  • Expectations (Albare / Turcio)
  • Intro to Heart of Heart Revisited
  • Heart of Heart (Albare)
  • No Love Lost (Albare / Turcio)
  • New Signs (Albare / Turcio)
  • Tender You (Albare / Turcio)
  • Overjoyed (Albare)
  • The Road Ahead Part B (Albare)

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Mark S. Tucker

 Edited by: David N. Pyles