Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Allan Holdsworth

ISR Music Magazine 

"In The Mystery"


Jazz Guitarist - Allan Holdsworth

Few things power the human imagination more than a sense of mystery.

Mystery inspires reverence, and wonder. It brings us to a feeling of utter awe.

Allan Holdsworth is a musician and somewhat of a mystery.

His guitar is used to evoke the sound of a saxophone more than anything reminiscent of Hendrix or Clapton.

More influenced by 'Bird' and 'Trane' (Charlie Parker and John Coltrane), than Page and Beck.

And his compositions invite us into a state of mystery. Of not knowing.

His poignant tone full of pathos and longing brings our arrogance down a notch, and reminds us that we are but humble passengers on Earth.

Listening to Jazz requires that we develop our emotional capacities to the point where we trust forces beyond what our minds can understand.

Allan is both a master and a magician at playing in this lost, suspended emotional space. At home in a place we can barely understand or perceive, but we know with certainty that he knows, it is there.

His legato technique honed to perfection from countless hours practicing scales and improvising solos over obtuse jazz chord (harmonic) changes.

Speaking, crying, moaning, wailing, even screeching. His playing runs the gamut of all the inherent and imagined possibilities that could ever be found in music.

Perhaps this is why Jazz is his first love.

Jazz allows the instrumentalists to explore and seek out new musical terrain. Moreover, it requires that they do.

And thus enjoying Jazz requires our trust.

You have to trust the drummer is playing 'off-tempo' to accentuate the beats he intentionally left out during the previous eight bars.

You have to trust that the soloist will find his way 'back home' and end up resoundingly in the key his solo departure began in. And when he arrives back home, you have to trust he will be there...right on time.

Knowing we live in a profound mystery in this life; none of us knowing why our lives began the day it did, nor what day our lives will end.

We experience a sense of reverence at the Universe when we look up at the night sky.

Perhaps Jazz, like life, is only here for us to improvise and fulfill a unique and beautiful role in our life in the process. And to find our own sense of reverence.

This is the basis of Allan Holdsworth's music. Its also the basis for a profound understanding of Jazz.

The humble position we put ourselves in when listening to Jazz is one of reverence, where we allow ourselves to fall under the spell of powers we cannot understand or predict with our rational mind.

Allan Holdsworth's music requires that same humbled 'Jazz response'.

Whether it's "Looking Glass" featuring Jazz legend Tony Williams on drums, or "Five G" from Bill Bruford's "One Of A Kind" album, Allan Holdsworth's music has indeed taken us in, and placed us mysteriously under the spell of powers we cannot understand with the rational mind.

The sound of sweet emotion in the true spirit of beauty, healing, and wisdom is all that is left.

Please enjoy.

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