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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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The Art of Chord Solo Guitar

Moon Cycle Records EMK 2001 




1. In a Sentimental Mood
2. The Girl from Ipanema
3. Laura
4. Yesterday
5. Summertime
6. The Days of Wine and Roses
7. Moon River
8. Stella By Starlight
9. Tenderly
10. Summertime
11. All the Things You Are

Royce Campbell – Solo guitar

Thank goodness for a decent sleeve-note on this Royce Campbell CD: this one is quite informative. I have always enjoyed Royce’s playing but to date knew little about him. From this sleeve note, I discover that he toured with Henry Mancini for some 19 years so, as I suspected, he has kept some top-class company. 

Apparently Ed Benson, editor of Just Jazz Guitar magazine has declared chord solo guitar as a lost art, the definition being that the guitarist plays the melody harmonised with chords. He has obviously never heard Martin Taylor who is probably the world’s greatest exponent of the art at present! 

To get back to Royce Campbell (who is another fine exponent of the art as this CD proves): from the sleeve-notes, I read that he did not prepare the material ahead - in order to give the CD a fresh and live quality. This kind of strategy is not without risk as some minor errors can easily occur, even with the very best. For the greatest part Royce’s strategy has succeeded, because the CD is a very pleasant listening experience. 

Royce comments that fans and fellow guitarists have told him that they prefer solo guitar features to be based on standards and I would agree. Of course there’s a place for new material, if it’s equal in quality to the older standards, unfortunately this is rarely the case. And I regularly find myself reviewing CDs containing only original tunes which I know I will never hear again. So let’s give Royce full marks for tune selection! 

I found every track an interesting listening experience. The least successful for me was The Girl from Ipanema, where the tune disappeared in the reharmonisation, but it may just be that Royce has played it so often that he felt it needed to be very different this time. 

My favourite track is Stella by Starlight. This long-time favourite of jazz musicians has such a rich chord sequence that the possibilities of what can be done with it are never exhausted. 

This is music to savour and Royce is to be congratulated on the quality of the whole album. 

Don Mather



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