Bruce Arnold (aka Arnett Brewster) is the director of guitar studies at New York University and Princeton University. He is also the creator of the New York University Summer Guitar Intensive. Bruce Arnoldís recording credits include over twenty five CDs and DVDs, ranging from the standard jazz repertoire to free improvisation to the reinterpretations of classical music with the ensemble Spooky Actions. Dave Schroeder (aka Woodrow T. Greenwich) was born and raised in Carroll Iowa. Dr. Schroeder is continually developing an interactive environment between students, artist/faculty and the jazz community thriving in and around New York City. Schroeder's vision for jazz education combines theory and practice, taking advantage of NYU's proximity and interaction with legendary jazz clubs, recording studios and record labels. Together, Arnett Brewster and Woodrow T. Greenwich join forces in this incredible album. This album features Brewster on a lap slide guitar and Greenwich on harmonica. Great Houdini will deliver unique sound with true skill that has ten tracks.
A home cooking, southern vibe is felt in the first track Tarnation. Chords are heard at intervals while there is a constant melodic pattern heard on the lap slide guitar. A vibrant sound from the harmonica enters the tune as it also plays sharp statements. The harmonica sings with heart felt tones and reminds you of being in the country with some lemonade and straw hats. On guitar there is added support in terms of giving the harmonica much room and liberty to produce the southern effect that you hear. The guitar finally does a solo and plays sustained notes while higher notes are played with the harmonica playing in the background. A pleasant, country anthem is the effect thatís done in astounding fashion.
The guitar and harmonica both play the melody together in the fourth track Look Out! A short burst of call and response can be heard between both instruments that gives you a break from what was happening before. You can feel more tension building up in this tune that feels very turbulent. A little later, you heard arpeggio type structures struck on the guitar. The lower notes on the guitar have an interesting sound quality and are prominent throughout this piece. A characteristic rhythm on guitar can also be heard throughout this tune.
In the beginning of the sixth track Wagtail, there are music statements that have a moving motion. The harmonica plays with energy and intensity. You can hear trills on the harmonica as well. The effective and careful use of the pentatonic scale is evident here on the harmonica. I like how the lap slide guitar plays notes that slide down. The guitar notes have a funky edge to it in this tune. You can tell that the harmonica player is having fun by playing around with the rhythm in stunning fashion. The guitar keeps the tune together by functioning not only as a guitar but as the drums as well.
Vibrating strings can be heard on guitar at the beginning of the ninth track Dem Dere Shuffle. The guitar sound has excellent attitude. You can hear some of the blues form progressions in this piece. The harmonica plays structured phrases that are well timed. In the guitar solo, the notes are played with the overall blues feel in mind. When the harmonica plays a phrase, there will be some space that allows your ears to savor what has just been played. The guitar is a dynamic harmony machine in this tune and this album.
Great Houdini has many things going for it. The whole album is held together by two musicians who have much experience and who have terrific chemistry with one another. When you have only two instrumentalists playing, a true connection between both musicians is vital or it will not work. The type of sound that you get in this phenomenal album is unique in that it employs the use of a kind of guitar that you donít hear most of the time and you combine that with a fiery, high octane sound on the harmonica. Bruce Arnold(aka Arnett Brewster) and Dave Schroeder (aka Woodrow T. Greenwich) have carved an incredible path of music sound that has affected and touched the lives of many musical listeners. I highly endorse Great Houdini.