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REVIEWS
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Sometimes, this job is easy.

A CD comes across my desk that contains a new voice - Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque with Macedonian Blues, Gyan Riley with Food for the Bearded for example.

Boris Gaquere with Xeque-Mate is such a new voice.

As part of the composer/guitarist subculture that seems to have sprung up around classical guitar (propped up might be a better characterization), Gaquere brings a style somewhere between Roland Dyens and Sergio Assad (two of his former teachers, the latter's brother appears as a special guest on the disc). Translation: the pieces unite several styles (rock, jazz, funk) around a compositional style that is formally simplistic (large ABAs) with nods to not-so-rigorous, two-voice counterpoint employing a jazz-informed harmonic language. Mix all of this with a kid who can play the guitar (he gives a spry, gracious reading of Dyens' Homage a Villa-Lobos) and you have a great disc.

The CD, apart from the composer/guitarist genre discussed above, also highlights an interesting new cosmopolitan nationalism that has sprung forth from the informational diaspora of the last two decades. Unlike the middle of the last century where music was defined by the compositional process (serialism, minimalism, neo-classicism, aleatoricism, and various other -isms), in our day it seems that we are back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries where one's music is identified by its national flavor. But instead of this springing from the desire for regional self-determination, a sort-of-sacrifice of self to the greater meaning of 'a people', these associations with national musics are often the expression of a non-confrontational imperialism (multi-cultural imperialism) that, like Mozart's use of Janissary Bands, seeks to color the music with exotic elements. However, unlike Mozart's interpolations, these touches of exoticism are not hints or diversions but constitute the primary definition of the music.

Note how Gaquere on the best track of the disc, Xeque-Mate (as fiery as anything on Macedonian Blues - but with a wry sense of humor), references his love of rock (an American music) and Brazilian music. As in Gyan Riley's use of Indian and Central/Eastern European music, we see a non-native (Gaquere is Belgian) identifying with foreign national styles and utilizing their characteristic sounds and effects to lend his music an exoticism. The grand problem of this type of music is that one falls in love with the ambience created by the music and in turn the formal component suffers. But this is a sacrifice quick-made in these days of musical commercialism where one defines their market by the moniker attached to their music (i.e. Brazilian music, Rock, Country, etc.).

Along these lines is the elegant Valsas do Rio by Clarice Assad - doubtless Brazilian Music. The first two of the three movements with their languid and lounging reads by Gaquere are wonderfully evocative. Gaquere maintains the mood in the more frenetic final movement, Central do Brasil. Ms. Assad is an excellent composer with much more than stylistic feel at her disposal. Gaquere's sensitive performance makes it one of the best tracks on the disc.

Gaquere in this first CD shows an original compositional voice, a command of the instrument and a strong ear for new composers. His is a new voice I hope to hear more of soon.