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Ed Acquesta is a masterful player who is carrying on the acoustic arch top tradition. On his latest recording String Spirits Ed pays homage to the great guitarists from ragtime to jazz (Blind Blake and Son House to Joe Pass and Wes). I was incredibly impressed to hear Ed's blend of solo acoustic guitar in the blues and ragtime styles interspersed with solo or duo arch top for standards like Georgia and Stella by Starlight. Ed makes it work beautifully though. He explains on the disc, "As my journey continued, the lines between artists as diverse as Son House and Joe Pass eventually became very blurred and I was moved equally by the spirit behind all their music. Blind Blake's swinging blues rags continue to move me as much as Wes Montgomery's beautiful improvisations- to me there is no difference." String Spirits, proves his point.
On this CD Ed demonstrates not only how close these styles can be in swing and form, but also how comfortable he is in blending and shifting the genres. Ed was able to seamlessly blend and fade from the ragtime tunes into the standards without a hitch. In both genres Acquesta is a master. He plays ragtime and slide guitar as authentically as anyone I've heard. Ed's Santa Cruz OM acoustic guitar sings here. His American Archtops (6 and 7 strings) also sing on this disc. Acquesta presents the songs respectfully and professionally. His arrangements are both unique and sophisticated. Ed performs both solo 7 string as well as 6 and 7 string guitar duets on Standards like Stella, Georgia, Alone Together, Willow Weep and Alice in Wonderland. Originals like Blind Arthur's Roll, Skip Leaves Wisconsin are authentic in sound and style and fair well with Wabash Rag and Devil Got My Woman. 18 tunes in all complete this record. If you are interested in jazz guitar history and creative performance, check out Ed's disc.
Ed Aquesta is a master guitarist, adept in many styles. From fingerstyle solo jazz guitar arrangements a la Joe Pass and the seven-string wizard George Van Eps to rootsier ground once dominated by such fingerstyle luminaries as the late John Fahey, Acquesta never disappoints. He even plays some down-home Delta slide. And amazingly, he never seems out of his depth. Acquesta convinces every step of the way, from Ellington's lush "Prelude to a Kiss" and numerous other standards to the "Wabash Rag." Awesome late night listening.