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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Momento Magico

Act 9565-2



1. Ballad For E.

2. Momento Magico

3. Liberetto

4. Hindustan Blues

5. Requiem for a Lost Son

6. Mali On My Mind

7. Gnossienne

8. The Dragon

9. Esperanto

10. Preludio

11. Notes for OP and Wes

12. Sugar Man

13. La Mer

Ulf Wakenius – Steel string guitar, nylon string guitar, bass guitar

Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius is probably best known for the years he spent playing for the Oscar Peterson Quartet: more than ten years until Oscar’s death in 2007. But he has also played with the likes of Ray Brown, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and, more recently, Korean singer Youn Sun Nah.

On this album he pays tribute to some of his musical friends and to several places in the world that have influenced him. This latter influence accounts for the touches of World Music which are evident in several pieces. For example, Mali on my Mind was influenced by the country in the title – and particularly by the Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré. In his useful sleeve-notes, Ulf calls Mali “the cradle of blues” and the track has a bluesy assurance. Here, as throughout the album, Wakenius uses double-tracking (maybe even triple-tracking) to provide his own accompaniment on a variety of guitars.

Esperanto truly reflects a variety of world influences – Ulf says from Greece, Russia and the Middle East – suggesting that these different countries can come together through the common language of music. The most moving tribute to a country is La Mer, Charles Trenet’s beautiful song which evokes France. Wakenius takes it very slowly and minimally, thinking about every note.

Indeed, this album demonstrates not only Ulf’s virtuosity but also the breadth of his tastes. His jazz side is exemplified in Notes for OP and Wes, a swinging homage to Oscar Peterson and Wes Montgomery. Ulf’s fingers fly over the strings at an incredible speed. The title track is dedicated to Youn Sun Nah, the Korean singer with whom Ulf has toured extensively. The sleeve-notes call it “a mix of inspiration from Egberto Gismonti and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart”. And Wakenius gives a new feel to Satie’s Gnossienne, with a hint of the bossa nova.

This whole CD is an object-lesson in guitar playing, as Ulf obtains a wide variety of sounds from his guitars: making use of the sharp click of the strings, the overtones, the sustain. The album is a must for all guitarists but also a serious contender for all listeners.

Tony Augarde

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