Stories » Sharon Isbin releases a pair of albums, one with her in the lead and the other in a unique quartet setting / Jazz Weekly

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Sharon Isbin releases a pair of albums, one with her in the lead and the other in a unique quartet setting / Jazz Weekly

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Guitarist Sharon Isbin first caught my eye when I saw her in a trio setting where she held her own with Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo at a concert at CSUN. Here, she releases a pair of albums, one with her in the lead and the other in a unique quartet setting.

The first, Affinity, has her in solo, duet and concert settings all to rich rewards. The feature piece is Chris Brubeck's "Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra" which includes intricate and romantic fingerwork with modern Iberian tones and sweeping strings. Leo Brouwer's "El Decameron Negro" is darker and filled with shadows, while her duet with guitarist Colin Davin on "Waltz No. 3 Natalia" is a joyful conversation. On her own, she displays a strong touch, crisp and affirmative on  ""Balada de laDoncella Enamorada" and with mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard gets folksy and minstrel'd for "Listen…" and "This Night of Love…". A wide stringed palate.

Quite eclectic is the four piece team of Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash and Iben for a handful of premiers for guitar and sarod, which is essentially a mini-sitar. Kavthekar plays tablas on all tracks with isben, while the three sarod players take turns teaming up. Kavthekar guides the team on the concise "Love Avalanche" with mysterious strings in abundance, while rapid fingers race and dance to a rich climax to "By The Moon". The strings bend to almost exhaustion on "Sacred Evening" and while they gallup to the finish lne on the bluesy "Romancing Earth". Southern Asia tones and harmonies meld with Western musings like a rich sauce.

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