“Have guitar will travel” - The latest albums by John Hackett and Nick Fletcher reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

John Hackett’s work with Nick Fletcher will be familiar to our readers through our reviews of their previous collaborative efforts but this time round not only do I have the great pleasure of reviewing yet another collaboration but also the chance to pen a few words about Nick’s latest offering as well.

The title of this review may puzzle some of you but I hope it will become clearer as the nature of the albums and the music within them becomes plain. Not that there is anything plain about the music herein but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh?

First up is Nick’s album: Blue Horizon, as it is sub-titled, guitar recital , and that indeed is what the album is, a showcase for not only some of Nick’s new compositions but also for some fine examples of modern classical guitar compositions by European exponents of the craft.

Somewhat confusingly the album opens with Unruhe which, unless I am mistaken, means troubled spirit in German. Well, this frenetic piece certainly lives up to that description! From Vermont however, is a much more stately and serene piece, brilliantly evocative of the New England landscape it describes. Equally descriptive is The Grand Parade, a wonderful evocation of the sights and sounds of a carnival in full flow.

Balletto by Manual Ponce, does exactly what its title says, this is a balletic piece de resistance totally beautiful! The album’s title track, Blue Horizon is an altogether more upbeat and jaunty piece, a walk along a sunlit beach towards a blue horizon, superbly etched out in the purest musical form.

The rest of this superbly crafted album is comprised of equally enchanting music, and acts as a showcase for some of the best modern classical guitarists’ work as well as more of Nick’s own superb work. If you love the acoustic work of Messrs Hackett and Phillips this is an album you will love. Music that does your heart and soul the world of good!

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Nick Fletcher: Blue Horizon. Hacktrax HTRX009.

John and Nick’s latest collaboration Hills Of Andalucia is another wonderful confection. A delightful mix of new compositions by the pair and some fine examples of similar music from composers in Spain, South America and France. See, the title of the review begins to make sense now, eh?

The album gets under way with Sonatina Mexicana by Carlo Domenicon, a delightful three part suite which evokes the landscapes and people of Mexico in delightfully colourful music . This is followed by the equally charming Sicillienne which I am sure will be familiar to many of you as its main theme has been used in several TV and film soundtracks over the years.

As with Nick’s album reviewed above, this album showcases some of the finest modern composers and Entr’acte by Jacques Ibert and Aqua e Vinho by Egberto Gismonti amply demonstrate that thankfully there are still plenty of musicians out there who appreciate genuine melody and both of these pieces are sublime in both their compositoon and performance here.

The central section of the album is taken up by a suite of pieces written by both Nick and John titled Las Aves de Seville (the birds of Seville) another superb tone poem describing the sights and sounds of the wonderful city of Seville from dawn to dusk… quite literally. A superlative tone poem, wonderfully executed by both performers, this is the kind of music I could (and often do) listen to all day!

The rest of the album mixes compositions from the modern repertoire as well as other tracks from John and Nick with Red Hair being familiar to anyone who knows John’s previous acoustic album. All superbly executed by two musicians whose talent and genuine love for the music they are playing shines through in these performances.

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Nick Fletcher/John Hackett: Hills Of Andalucia. Hacktrax HTRX010.

For further information on the artists involved check out: www.hacktrax.com
www.nickfletcherguitar.com and www.roughdraftaudio.com for details.