Monday, January 10, 2011

The new member of the menagerie

(... or the new quiver in the bow, the new brush in the paintbox...)

Saturday I picked up a Squier Esprit guitar. These guitars were part of the Squier Master Series, made in Korea for only a year or so around 2005. It has a double cutaway, chambered mahogany body, a carved mahogany top, a 22-fret mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard, 24.75-in scale (like a Gibson Les Paul or SG, and unlike most Fenders, which have a 25.5-in scale length), with 2 Duncan-designed humbucking pickups, a three-position switch, and a pair of volume and tone knobs, one per pickup. This model was based on the Fender Esprit/Elite models made by Fender in the 80's, and famously endorsed for a while by Robben Ford. The Squier sports a slightly different headstock, and the pickups are not wired so that you can split the humbucker's coils.

This guitar was previously owned by my pal Dave Workman, a terrific Bay Area blues guitarist, so it's got some built-in mojo.

Guitar Player magazine reviewed it back in the August 2005 issue, and gave it the Editor's Pick nod.

I played it a bit when I got it home. After a couple of weeks of only playing my Telecaster (with a 25.5-in scale length), it was quite different in feel, and it took me a while to get comfortable, but the sound was inspiring from the get-go. Played acoustically, it is rich and vibrant, which is always a good sign. Plugged in, it sounds marvelous. Played through a clean amp, it sounds like a good jazz guitar, with a complex character and great definition. Crank up the gain, and the humbuckers sing like a sweet Les Paul. I was impressed with the clarity and definition even when you roll the highs off.

Sunday night I brought it with me to one of the jams that I frequent (Stan Erhart's "Killa Jam" at the Old Princeton Landing out on the Pacific coast) and got to play it into a couple of very fine amplifiers (a blackface Fender Vibrolux and an Allen Brown Sugar) through a couple of different pedals. It sounded very inspiring, was comfortable, and a joy to play.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A passel of miscellany

"In the Bleak Midwinter" often appears on Christmas recordings. But Christmas is only a couple of days after the first day of winter. What's up with that? By my reckoning, midwinter is around the first of February.

Speaking of Christmas recordings, got a couple more this year. Somehow I missed the fact that the amazing guitarist Tuck Andress recorded a CD of Christmas music in the early nineties... so I got that. Also, I heard a small sample of  a recording entitled performed by Christmas Music from Medieval Hungary by Anonymous 4 and thought that, like the review blurb on the album cover, it was "sublime." So I got that, too.

Speaking of sublime, the other night I watched some of the Crossroads Festival 2010 DVD that I got for Christmas. The first track on disk 2, "Midnight In Harlem" by the Derek Trucks/Susan Tedeschi Band, is just wonderful. Other highlights include Jeff Beck's performance of "Hammerhead" and "Nessun Dorma" (yes, the Puccini aria from Turandot). I was also pleased with Eric Clapton's performances with Steve Winwood -- playing with his old friend and collaborator brings out the best in old EC. (Check out "Voodoo Child" if you're so inclined...)

Since last posting here I've been busy with the usual stuff... playing at the Club Fox jam and at Stan Erhart's "killa jam" at the Old Princeton Landing as often as possible, and played a few gigs as part of the thrown-together jazz combo at the Turtle Bay Seafood & Grill restaurant in Foster City.

I hope that 2011 will be full of great things -- more and better gigs, maybe I'll finally get one of my recording projects moved forward, and of course more great stuff to listen to (like the soon-to-be released David Binney CD, Graylen Epicenter, with sax maestro Chris Potter and guitar wizard Wayne Krantz.