Larry Pattis,
Hands of Time
(self-produced, 2002)

Larry Pattis is a contemporary fingerstyle guitarist, transplanted to Utah from Chicago. I like guitar. When I purchase instrumental recordings, they feature fiddle, guitar or flute; usually there's background music from another instrument or accompaniment by the same.

What I can't understand about this CD, Hands of Time, is how Larry Pattis manages to fill the whole circle of sound with his guitar solos. As I sit and listen, I am amazed by how bountiful this instrument is in his hands.

Some say artists, those who create, are the closest to godliness. If so, Pattis must have a spiritual glow because these 10 out of 11 cuts are captivating. The eleventh is the well-known fiddle tune "Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Ungar, which fits perfectly with the others, all original compositions by Pattis.

Many musicians passably play great music, but what elevates a musician to greatness is often the spirit in which he or she plays. When Pattis plays he generously offers the listener a chance to share in his musical endowment. He serves a feast and accepts our presence at his table with genuine pleasure, and the table is set with everyday plates even though the cook is gourmet. The deep and vibrant voice of the guitar takes any "high" tones off the classical influence; so this is a universal listen.

The cuts on this CD are sweet, soothing, soaring, soft, sharp and sincere. More than anything, sincere -- true to musical form and musical soul. How sincerity becomes evident in a musical performance is beyond my explanation, but it's something intangible most of us recognize, and when we find it should indulge ourselves shamelessly.

I'm not sure how to classify this one. It's a bit Celtic, a little hint of Spanish for a note or two, and he calls one track "Going for Baroque." So you'll have to decide for yourself. Pattis uses a well-defined harmonic frame for each piece, but the outer elements are a kaleidoscope of silken notes and rhythmic fluency. With fingerwork so adept, he drives through poignant, dreamy melodies with vibrant echoes of passion and fun. Larry Pattis persuades his guitar strings to weave ribbons of music around you that become graceful bonds of pleasure. Surrender to it. Enjoy, I did.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 7 September 2002

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