Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pickin' Again - New Solo CD from Dutch Guitar Wizard!

CD front: Ice 'n Slice Records 89065-2
The Dutch guitarist, Ton van Bergeijk, has just released a new solo CD after almost 40 years of absence from recording solo fingerpicking guitar. The CD is produced by the artist, which means that everything from playing, recording, editing etc. is managed by Ton van Bergeijk himself. The CD is a highly welcome surprise for guitar fans who have long wanted to hear news from one of the best guitarists from the 1970s' rediscovery of the opportunities of the acoustic guitar when fingerpicked. In the liner notes, Ton states the background of the new CD, quote:

"Around '79 or so I did my last solo recordings. I hardly performed in those days. I had a regular job in systems programming, but after eight years it drove me physically as well as mentally over several edges, so by '83 I quit and tried to make a living by playing, safely, in the backline of several bands. Since then I have done a lot of different things: orchestras, bands, trio's, duo's, theatre, radio, television, studio's, the lot. Played and accompanied the whole caboodle, from Transylvanian fiddle tunes to free jazz, from the classics to New Orleans funk. Broadened my horizons, learned loads since my blues-based beginner days. All these influences have left their mark on my approach to fingerpicking. So now, like in Plato's cave, I'm returning to the scene of the crime with a different set of tools. Same brain, face and fingers, but a different guy, and if you think it isn't good any more: do have the courtesy to grant this pig his mud." 
Ton van Bergeijk (photo courtesy
The CD contains fourteen tracks of tunes composed and/or arranged by Ton van Bergeijk - a tracklist with additional info on how to buy the CD is available at the official website, here. As the subtitle of the CD indicates, the music is devoted to the blues genre and "... a wee bit o' jazz". To get a little closer to the kind of music presented at the CD, you will discover influence from both ragtime guitar pioneer Blind Blake, boogie woogie piano players, rhythm & blues a la Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and further the funky approach of New Orleans king of the ivories James Booker combined with licks and tricks inspired by Nashwille's guitar 'wild man' Jerry Reed thrown in for good measure, a nice gumbo stew which bears all the trademarks of Ton van Bergeijk's amazing ability to arrange and play great music as a highly gifted fingerstyle guitarist.
CD disc, Ice 'n Slice Records 89065-2

A couple of more quotes from Ton's comprehensive notes with the CD may help the reader of this short review to further imagine the amount of experience and work which is the background of the presented music. 

About his inspiration as a guitar player, Ton says: "I've always been interested in the blues and jazz guitarists of the interbellum period, but in a way that would provide me with fantasies of how they thought about their guitar, whether these fantasies were true to reality or not. That way you can use their "guitar-brains" to your own advantage." And about piano inspiration, he adds " I have always been influenced by pianists, maybe more so than by guitarists. Especially New Orleans guys like [James] Booker or [Mac] Rebennack [aka Dr. John]: they've always made the connection for me with classic jazz and therefore effectively opened my window towards post war rhythm & blues. The New Orleans piano styles in my mind have the quality of being chord-based rather than scale-based, which makes it more adaptable to guitar interpretations ..."  

This is valuable information for other guitarists with interest in studying Ton's approach and the recorded tunes, which in addition have been transcribed in tablature and regular music notation in the accompanying booklet. Later the recorded tunes will be followed by some video lessons to let other guitarists have the opportunity to further study the music and the amazing technique applied by this Dutch wizard of the contemporary fingerpicking guitar. Learn more about the CD and the future project of video lessons by visiting the official website, here 
Ton van Bergeijk (photo courtesy

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