Too many guitar and piano albums suffer from imbalance – the imbalance of a great big 88-key concert grand bullying a little 6-string guitar into submission. Tony Barnard‘s remarkable 21-string harp guitar (together with pianist Casey Golden‘s sensitivity to register) return a rare and unique balance to their their current collaboration, Inventions.
Across 16 tracks (nine from Barnard, seven from Golden) the duo mesh beautifully – often it is hard to tell where the Steinway ends and the Sedgwick (or Emerald Synergy) guitar begins. Which is as is should be.Except of course when they excitingly play against or across each other: Barnard’s steel strings biting into the piano chords or Golden soloing brightly and lightly over the guitar rhythms, like rain falling across hills (Golden’s solo on “First Place” is a special case in point: its fleeting dissonances nipping and tugging against the driving guitar).
The range of tunes here allows full invention from both – the rustic country ramble of opener ‘Erin’s Song’, the Bach-like ‘Invisible’ (a range of approaches across four versions I,II, II and IV), the impressionistic ‘Where the Clouds Go’ (which shows the depth of the harp guitar).The mood indigo minor ‘Erika’s Song’ is a gorgeous theme that draws a measured and considered solo from Golden. ‘Rhapsodic’ brings to mind Keith Jarrett’s more meditative pieces, painting watercolour pictures on the wind.Inventions grows in enjoyment on each listen – as anything of this sophistication and creativity does. I have long enjoyed each of these artists – uncle and nephew from Australian jazz royalty, the Barnard clan – separately, so it is an event to hear them together. I truly hope there is more to come.
Who would have thought such depth and diversity could come from just two instruments.The preceding statement is the easiest way to describe the new record from Tony Barnard and Casey Golden. Inventions has the two artists combine their powers to produce a record which makes for a lovely soundtrack to any day.Blending Tony Barnard’s exquisite playing on a 21 string harp guitar with the silkiness of Casey Golden on piano has created a record which is truely unique. The blending of instruments on this record is something to behold as the musicians seamlessly pass the focus back and forth between each other.The moments that truely standout though are when both instruments are allowed to shine together, which can be a difficult task to conquer, but is done quite often on Inventions.
Two generations of the Barnard jazz dynasty have collaborated to create a stunning jewel of a recording.Now based in London uncle Tony Barnard and nephew Casey Golden deliver modern original compositions and improvisations that fall somewhere between jazz, classical, world and folk music.Harp guitarist Tony and pianist Casey are both classically trained musicians but perform separately at Ronnie Scott’s and other top jazz venues.It’s such a pleasure to listen to a guitar being nurtured as the beautiful classic musical instrument that it is into a jazz idiom and a Steinway Grand being caressed there also in the unique technique employed by Golden. Soft and intelligent guitar progressions lead into the scintillating chops of Golden.Throughout the majority of Barnard and Golden’s Inventions their compositions and arrangements are precise and well designed.From the delicate This Is All There Is,Where The Clouds Go, First Place and Rhapsodic to the jazz inspired Sprawler and First Place both artists display a fine and nuanced touch alluded to above.In an era where shredding and playingasfastasyoupossiblycan for no apparent reason have become a norm, it is a pleasure to listen to a harp guitar being nurtured as the beautiful musical instrument that it is. The pacing and tempo comfortably allows time to breathe and absorb the subtleties and distinctions that are well crafted in this stellar debut
Barry Sullivan's "Album of Week" in Jazz & Beyond