The Wayward Trail Elliot Simpson
- 115 Zwiefche Transzendiert07:40
- 2I. Prelude06:05
- 3II. Balkan Dance03:56
- 4III. A New Waltz in Pelog04:10
- 5IV. Gigue (Maggie's Jigs)02:31
- 6No. 1. Schneidertood01:40
- 7No. 2. Dismission of the Great I03:04
- 8No. 3. Sweet Betsy from Pike08:11
- 9No. 4. Eskimo Lullaby05:10
- 10No. 5. 85 Chords (The Historical Tuning Problem)09:44
Info for The Wayward Trail
Using a guitar invented in 2002 by Lou Harrison, the Godfather of World Music, ELLIOT SIMPSON brings us new music written for a ‘folk’ guitar tuned in pure intonation (that’s right, the frets are *not* where you expect them to be). Exquisite harmonies and melodies that you’ve never heard before burst from this special ‘steel guitar’ in music that is at once captivating, tuneful, mournful, exuberant, startling, and downright addictive.
Walter Zimmerman opens the album by weaving a shimmering web of harmonics that welcomes you into this brave new world of pure harmonies. David Doty’s Steel Suite of marvelous dances tips it hat towards the music of several cultures after an evocative Prelude, while Larry Polansky sets infectious traditional folk tunes, bookended by exploratory ‘Toods’ that surf the more dissonant side of this extraordinary instrument. Ezequiel Menalled closes the album with an atmospheric journey through deep inner space, navigating the new universes of sound to be found in the infinitesimally small distances between so-called microtones.
“He is a spectacular player and artist, fully up to the demands of this music. He has an impeccable technique, the intellect to comprehend and convey the works, and enough heart to hear the beauties behind the forbidding exterior…This is some remarkable music making.” (American Record Guide)
The album is filled with a variety of music from composers at the forefront of new music and microtonal writing. The works can draw a historical influence back to composer Harry Partch who was a pioneer in the field and “would come to refer to his complex stylistic development as a ‘wayward trail’.” My personal favourite from the album is the beautiful work by Zimmerman filled with spacious and sparkling harmonics. It’s a wonderful piece to become lost in as the drifting motifs delicately bounce about in alternating duple and triple meter. Steel Suite by Doty is a bit more rustic but delivers some interesting folky dances and energy. Coincidently, I’ve been working on transcriptions of Dalza (fl. 1508) which is, as I far as I know, the first reference to “tastar de corde” (in Italian, literally, “testing of the strings”) meaning a prelude exploring chords. The work by Larry Polansky throws us a more dissonant flavour along with exploring what that means on the unique instrument. The folk tunes that appear gave me an occasional giggle but many of the musical settings were very touching. I’m assuming it’s Simpson himself singing on the album. The Trumpet on 85 Chords is played by Justin Christensen. Forward by Ezequiel Menalled is an extended and spacious exploration of the harmonies and further microtone possibilities as the performer tampers with the tuning of the open strings. The lovely recording quality and the clear sound of the instrument make this a wonderful closing of the album. Fantastic playing by Simpson, I love the sound of the instrument. Steel-strings record better than nylons, the album sparkles in the higher register but also has a rich low-end.
„The Wayward Trail by Elliot Simpson ranges from beautiful soundscapes to rustic dances and is filled with the mysterious harmonies of the unique just intonation guitar. The best thing about this album is not just its contribution to new music but the absolutely wonderful listening experience it gives to both new music fans and general listeners. I’d be hard-pressed to find a more interesting and engaging new music guitar album.“ (Bradford Werner, thisisclassicalguitar.com)
Elliot Simpson, Nationa Reso-Phonic Just Intonation Tricone guitar
has given premieres of works by such iconic and diverse composers as Sofia Gubaidulina, Alvin Lucier, and Michael Finnissy, and has collaborated with many acclaimed young composers including Hugo Morales, Ezequiel Menalled, Benjamin Staern, and Sahba Aminikia. He has been a guest of organizations including the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble, the San Francisco Symphony, the New European Ensemble, the György Ligeti Academy, and the Verband für aktuelle Musik Hamburg, as well as festivals and concert series throughout the United States and Europe in performances ranging from early music to free improvisation. He is a member of the contemporary music group Ensemble Modelo62 and, in the 2013/2014 season, will also perform and record as soloist with the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble under the direction of Reinbert de Leeuw. Awards include prizes at the international competitions of Zwolle (NL) and Nordhorn (DE), and the prestigious Huygens Grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
Originally from New Mexico, USA, Elliot studied with David Tanenbaum at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and with Zoran Dukic at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. His Master’s degree in The Hague, as both soloist and chamber musician, was awarded “with distinction for his extraordinary contribution to new music.”