By Bill MilkowskiIMay. 9, 2022
Vancouver-born guitarist Gordon Grdina recalls the moment, at age 13, when he first heard the sound of the Middle Eastern oud, the age-old ancestor of the European lute.
“My guitar teacher made me play a record (Saltanah, on Water Lily Acoustics),” he recalls. “I was playing a lot of blues at the time and a bit of slide, and he thought I’d be interested in Indian slide guitarist Vishna Mohan Bhatt. But when I heard Simon Shaheen playing oud on this album, I was blown away. I loved the sound of this one, and I couldn’t figure out how it was made. So I started listening to master oud players like Simon and Hamza El Din. Rabih Abou-Khalil also had a big influence by doing something more hybrid with the instrument. But I wanted to be respectful of tradition and learn as much as possible, and eventually find new ideas to create something more honest for my own expression.
Grdina did just that. As an emissary of Iraqi and Arabic-style oud playing, he has continued to put his stamp on the 11-string instrument since the release of his first recording as a leader, 2006. think like waves, featuring the revered rhythm tandem of bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Paul Motian. He made further breakthroughs on 2008 …If the accident occurs and followed by a trio of introspective solo classical guitar/oud projects with the 2018 JUNO Award winner china cloud2020s Earlier street and 2021 Pendulum. Her mission continues with two emotional releases on her new label Attaboygirl Records — The quietest hour of the night and Curiously: the music of Tim Berne.
Since forming Attaboygirl last year with photographer and partner Genevieve Monro, Grdina has been on a roll. The label was launched in October 2021 with the simultaneous releases of the solo Pendulum and the debut of his Square Peg quartet with ace alto Mat Maneri, bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Christian Lillinger on Klotsky. The quietest hour of the night, released in February, is a collection of traditional Iraqi and Arabic tunes performed with the Haram folk music ensemble from Grdina. It features guest guitarist Marc Ribot’s skronking over the tightly knit ensemble on intricate numbers such as the traditional Turkish tune “Longa Nahawand”, the Sudanese song “Sala Min Shaaraha”, and the Syrian tune “Dulab Bayati”.
“Ribot has been a hero of mine for a long time,” Grdina said. “He added a lot of energy and excitement as well as a punk-rock aesthetic to these pieces. explosive band to new heights. The record is five songs but live we did 12 different tracks from older repertoire, and he had so much fun [that] he played on everything with us.
The compelling solo project oddly enoughalso released in February, finds Grdina exploring the music of Bern on acoustic guitar, oud, and a custom electric guitar outfitted with MIDI pickups.
“Lost in Redding,” for example, has him trigger an acoustic bass sample with tabla, piano, Fender Rhodes, and various electronic sounds, all in real time with no overdubs. As he said of Berne’s work, “The compositions are incredibly complex, personal and harmonically unique. The linear way he writes for bands like Blood Count, Science Friction and Snake Oil makes me feel really good. And I wanted to get that quality in a different way on my own. I had done a bunch of acoustic records before so I wanted to try and do something electric. I wanted to use the amps in the big room and get a huge electric guitar sound there. That’s why I made this album in the studio instead of doing it at home.
While three songs on oddly enough – “Snippet”, “I Don’t Use Hair Products” and “Pliant Squids” – are strictly live lead guitar tracks, three others involve overdubs. For example, “Trauma One” features guitar and oud navigating in unison through the gnarled lines of Bern. The title track has two electric guitars (one through an octave pedal) engaged in frantic counterpoint.
Coming to Attaboygirl is another project called The Twain by Gordon Grdina, featuring electric koto player Michio Yagi and drummer Tamaya Honda of Japanese improvisation duo Dōjō, and vocalist Koichi Makigami, who doubles on theremin and cornet. Released in co-promotion between Attaboygirl and Vancouver Island vinyl record label Black Dot, it’s part of a stream of releases the prolific oud guitarist has released during the pandemic.
“There’s just a lot of stuff I needed to get out,” he said. “I want to be able to get things out faster, where what I’m posting is closer to what I’m actually working on.” comics
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