Ben Sherman - First Light
  1. You Ain't Right
  2. Three Wishes
  3. Chickenfish
  4. The Shadow
  5. Horizons
  1. Hour of the Wolf
  2. Countdown
  3. Nightmare On Church Street
  4. Last Best Hope
  5. First Light

This CD came to me in the mail after I got on the cruise ship. In addition to being the first piece of mail I received while on board, it is also one of the most unique and eclectic guitar recordings I have heard in a while. Both the composition and musicianship stand out. While not strictly a "jazz" record, it is musical and fun to listen to.

The first track, You Ain't Right is an engaging rock/fusion tune in the Joe Beck vein. The odd meter (4/4 and 7/8 if my ears don't deceive) and contrapuntal bass line add interest.

Three Wishes is a little funkier and displays a bit more guitar blowing. The bass part reminds me of the stuff Jeff Andrews did with Al Dimeola some years back.

Chickenfish is a laid back funk tune with some nice Holdsworth-like chord pads. Ben's lead tone is a little "tubier" on this track and sustains nicely. Ben's compositional skills are in no doubt, especially on the intriguing polytonal passages here and there. There's some nice straight ahead rock stuff on this tune.

The Shadow opens with a rhythm guitar break into a drum/bass groove. This tune reminds me a little of Yes and a little of Tribal Tech. Not a bad mix.

Horizons is a classical guitar piece that starts out with a nod to Bach's Cello Suite. Ben's classical chops are quite good. Halfway in, the tune opens up with fretless bass and steel string acoustic. This is a lovely tune.

Hour of the Wolf goes back a bit to the Holdsworth vein with clean electric guitar taking the lead. This is more of a mainstream pop/rock tune, yet it remains highly melodic.

Countdown is pretty much a rock track. But don't be fooled, there are some great harmonies and texures here.

Nightmare on Church Street is the hardest rocking track on the CD. For a lover of tube distortion like me, this is a feast.

Last Best Hope has an open, Metheny-esqe feel at the top then develops into a tight pop groove with the head played by chorused electric guitar. Ben does some whammy bar work on this one.

The CD closes with the title track on solo steel string acoustic. Detuned, with smooth pulloffs and modal harmonies, the guitar work on this tune is strongly reminiscent of the late great Michael Hedges. If Hedges was an influence on Ben's playing (and I have to think he was) then I can't ask for a better tribute than this tune.

Fans of rock/fusion/eclectic guitar need to check this one out. Stop by Ben's website and let him know JGO sent you! Recommended.

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