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Thread started 03/18/08 9:08am

theAudience

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Allan Holdsworth - Guitar Player Magazine - April 2008



...In Search Of The Uncommon Chord


Thanks to the fact that I grew up listening to my Dad's stellar collection of Jazz records, I have a very deep respect and admiration for musicians (and I use the term in the strictest sense) that are skilled improvisers.

There are some individuals that just refuse to accept being average & ordinary. They are determined to be innovative whether they're really aware of it or not. They are they ones that at young age devote incredible amounts of time to develop extraordinary skills relative to any art form (music, painting, dance, etc.) while others are more concerned with the development of their social lives. And many will generally pay a price for this struggle for excellence. Probably get tagged a weirdo or worse.

In terms of Jazz Fusion-style guitarists (players that incorporate elements of Jazz using a Rock sound), there's one guy that has always stood out for me. Allan Holdsworth.

I'm not sure if it's even fair the put that label on him because in terms of his compositions, many of them go beyond that, and in the minds of those that aren't extremely familiar with all that he's done and doing, the image of one of the legions of imitators that he's spawned will probably come to mind before he will.

The first time I heard him was on an album he detests and was released against his will...



...Velvet Darkness (CTI - 1976)

Alphonso Johnson - bass
Narada Michael Walden - drums
Alan Pasqua - piano

According to him, the cuts that got released were just rehearsals while the band was learning the songs.

I had never heard an overdriven electric guitar played in the legato style as fluently before. He had actually accomplished what many guitarist were striving for at the time, the ability to emulate a violin. When he played some violin on one of the tunes I thought, "Oh, I get it".
My next thought was, "Who is this guy, where did he come from and how did he get his style ?"

A sidebar to the story is that the arrangements to get him recorded on the CTI label was done through the urgings of none other than guitarist George Benson, a fan at the time.


Another album deal that was consumated with the aid of a famous fan (Eddie Van Halen) was...



...Road Games (Warner Bros - 1983)

Jeff Berlin - bass
Chad Wackerman - drums
Jack Bruce - vocals
Paul Williams - vocals


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


Here's what a few respected players have to say about him...

I put Holdsworth up there with Paganini and Liszt. Terrifying.

~ David Lindley


I've known Allan and his music for 30 years now, and after all this time, he still amazes me. His concept is still advancing with his playing and his technical prowess--which is phenomenal, and is in complete harmony with his very advanced musical direction. I saw him about 14 years ago, and, after the concert, I said to him, "If I knew what you were doing, I'd steal everything, but I don't know what you are doing!"

~ John McLaughlin


When I hear Allan playing the guitar-besides being emotionally swept away by his use of melodic color--most of the time, I am utterly stunned and confused by what I am hearing. His chops and inner ear completely defy my own inner musical eay and reasoning, and I'm left in a blissful state of humility and surrender.

~ Steve Vai


Holdsworth is so damned good that I can't understand what he's doing. I've fot to do this [does two-hand tapping], whereas he'll do it with one hand.

~ Eddie Van Halen


Allan's beautiful and unique chord voicings have always had an impact on me. His approach to guitar is one of a kind. He pushes the limits of the boundaries of electric guitar, and his lead phrasing would make Charlie Parker smile. His playing is essential listening for any guitarist, of any style, so they can see that the only limits we have are the ones we put on ourselves.

~ Eric Johnson


Hearing Allan's guitar playing for the first time was a cathartic experience. His gutar sang, it pushed musical boundaries, and it rocked. His brilliant approach to harmony is completely original, beautiful, and spellbinding. His technique and improvisational skills make him a true guitar god--the jaw-dropping kind that influences many a player in all styles of music. To witness him playing with Tony Williams' band--a Gibson SG around his neck, Small Stone Phaser, and Marshall stack in tow--was something I'll never forget. He ripped a hole in the guitarist's space-time continuum that night, and we've never been the same.

~ Joe Satriani


Allan really changed guitar playing. The legato techniques and "sheets of sound" approach influenced not only jazz guitarists, but also a whole generation of metal players. And aside from all the technical stuff, he's a master jazz guitarist. Check out his version of "How Deep Is the Ocean."

~ John Scofield


Allan wanted to sound like John Coltrane. Problem was he's playing guitar, not saxophone, so he had to figure out a way to get a similar "sheets of sound" equivalent on guitar. The scales and intervals he chose were also all unusual, and he didn't become just one of the great scalar improvisers overnight. He worked like a dog on Nicolas Slonimsky's [i]Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Then, when he'd run out of notes he'd reach for the whammy bar and send shivers down your spine.[/i]

~ Bill Bruford


Allan plays legato parts like a violinist. His right hand might as well be a bow, because his left hand is like Paganini's. You can call his playing whatever you want to, but it will still fry your brain if you try to figure it out. John McLaughlin, Michael Stern, John Scofield--all os us just scratch our heads and go, "Damn!"

~ Carlos Santana


Allan's prodigious technique and soring, melodic fluidity are inspiring and daunting. That tone! The amazing accuracy of his pull-offs! That limpid wang bar! Like other giants such as Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck, he spawned generations of imitators who, in a way, threaten to make one forget how great the original master is. Don't succumb to this! None of them can touch the man himself.

~ Nels Cline


And the capper, because to me this is what places one head and shoulders above the crowd.


Only the elite musician wishes not to imitate. Originality--and finding your own voice--are the only beacons the elite musician follows. Allan is one of those musicians.

~ Jeff Berlin

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


One of my favorite Allan Holdsworth albums is...



...None Too Soon.

Reason being, almost all the tunes have an authentic Jazz swing vibe to them if not outright standards.

Countdown - John Coltrane
Nuages - Django Reinhardt
How Deep Is the Ocean? - Irving Berlin
Isotope & Inner Urge - Joe Henderson
Very Early - Bill Evans
Norwegian Wood - Lennon/McCartney (an excellent arrangement in 6/8)


Most Jazz based musicians that improvise (and especially Jazz/Rock guitarists) will at some point within a solo will revert to some form of Blues phrasing. But what I began to notice about Holdsworth's solos was he appeared to purposely avoid doing that.

Take the tune Isotope, which after an interesting head goes in Blues changes (Jazz/Blues that is, with all the extra chord changes). Now you'd figure on a tune like that, at some point he might slip up once and ease out a typical Blues cliche somewhere in his solo. Well he doesn't, not even once. Talk about discipline.

Then a scenario he describes in the article made everything clear.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


Some of the playing on Tempest is almost bluesy, but that's something you've otherwise avoided throughout your career.

"The blues didn't really interest me that much. Also, when I first started listening to people like B.B. King, trying to pick up some blues licks, my dad would come in and say, "That's not the blues, man, this is the blues." And then he'd start playing more like a jazz blues. So at that point I made a really conscious effort not to play anything that sounded even remotely like a blues lick. I love to hear other people playing them, but I try to find something else to play that will fulfill maybe a similar thing, but not be that exactly."

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=



Most people rave about his solo style which is legendary but over the years what i've become more interested in are his chord voicings and compositions. Sadly these are some other excellent elements of his playing that seemed to get overlooked.


One of my favorites AH compositions...



...Tokyo Dream



A snippet from the Live at Yoshi's DVD. A performance done last year...



...Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua, Jimmy Haslip & Chad Wackerman


For such a great player, he seems to have no ego at all.
Incredibly self-effacing person and super critical of his own playing.

When asked about the DVD...

"I don’t really know what it is, it just that people ask me about things, like, “What do you think about that DVD that you guys did?” And I respond that I haven’t seen it. And I probably won’t, because I’m afraid that if I see it I’ll just put the guitar down, and I don’t want to feel like I’ll just put the guitar down, and that’s why I really hate going back and listening to live stuff. I know I’m going to probably hate it, sometimes to the point where I don’t want to play."



Enough from me, go read the article and listen to some of his albums.
http://www.guitarplayer.c...r-08/33675



tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
[Edited 3/19/08 22:08pm]
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #1 posted 03/18/08 9:22am

MsLegs

thumbs up! cool
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Reply #2 posted 03/18/08 9:39am

carlcranshaw

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Co-Sign on "Tokyo Dream".

All of "Road Games" and "Metal Fatigue" are great along with the Bruford and Tony Williams records.


http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...GCVk-M7j3U

http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...PgDbfZJkSw
‎"The first time I saw the cover of Dirty Mind in the early 80s I thought, 'Is this some drag queen ripping on Freddie Prinze?'" - Some guy on The Gear Page
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Reply #3 posted 03/18/08 9:51am

EccentricLady

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carlcranshaw said:

Co-Sign on "Tokyo Dream".

All of "Road Games" and "Metal Fatigue" are great along with the Bruford and Tony Williams records.


http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...GCVk-M7j3U

http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...PgDbfZJkSw

Thanks for the clips. smile
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Reply #4 posted 03/18/08 10:05am

blackguitarist
z

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Yep...great thread Aud. I very much like and respect Holdsworth. I dig the stuff he did with Bowie too. I remember in the early 80's when I first had a subscription to GP mag, that's the first place where I had read or even heard of Allan. And this was when EVH ruled all things axe-like, and to have him praise Allan did very much help hip the masses to him. It worked on me. I went out and bought Road Games because of this. I also remember being struck odd because of Allan's last name. His name always stood out to me. It would catch my attention. It had some kind of energy that I reacted too. Just from seeing it printed in magazines in the early 80's. Odd...I remember that.
SynthiaRose said "I'm in love with blackguitaristz. Especially when he talks about Hendrix."
nammie "What BGZ says I believe. I have the biggest crush on him."
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Reply #5 posted 03/18/08 10:12am

MsLegs

blackguitaristz said:

Yep...great thread Aud. I very much like and respect Holdsworth. I dig the stuff he did with Bowie too. I remember in the early 80's when I first had a subscription to GP mag, that's the first place where I had read or even heard of Allan. And this was when EVH ruled all things axe-like, and to have him praise Allan did very much help hip the masses to him. It worked on me. I went out and bought Road Games because of this. I also remember being struck odd because of Allan's last name. His name always stood out to me. It would catch my attention. It had some kind of energy that I reacted too. Just from seeing it printed in magazines in the early 80's. Odd...I remember that.

thumbs up!
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Reply #6 posted 03/18/08 10:49am

paligap

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...

I still remember the first time I heard Allan Holdsworth---- I was listening to Jean Luc Ponty's album, Individual Choice, and I kept going, "Damn, who's that guitar player?".... When I found out it was Holdsworth, I ran out and got "Road Games" and "Metal Fatigue", and promptly got my mind fucked up, lol --I've been a diehard fan ever since....

The thing is, at the time, he was getting praise from guitarists from Eddie Van Halen to George Benson, but he was worried because he wasn't getting airplay--Rock stations thought he was too jazzy , Jazz stations thought it was too rock oriented....

I dunno , to me, he represents the epitome of what "Fusion" should be....






...
[Edited 3/18/08 10:49am]
" I've got six things on my mind --you're no longer one of them." - Paddy McAloon, Prefab Sprout
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Reply #7 posted 03/18/08 12:37pm

theAudience

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paligap said:

...

I still remember the first time I heard Allan Holdsworth---- I was listening to Jean Luc Ponty's album, Individual Choice, and I kept going, "Damn, who's that guitar player?".... When I found out it was Holdsworth, I ran out and got "Road Games" and "Metal Fatigue", and promptly got my mind fucked up, lol --I've been a diehard fan ever since....

The thing is, at the time, he was getting praise from guitarists from Eddie Van Halen to George Benson, but he was worried because he wasn't getting airplay--Rock stations thought he was too jazzy , Jazz stations thought it was too rock oriented....

I dunno , to me, he represents the epitome of what "Fusion" should be....






...



Agreed on his indefinable position in the "Fusion" spectrum.

Here's where he describes it the same way you just did...



...Looks like he'd rather be anywhere else than answering those questions. lol



tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #8 posted 03/18/08 12:39pm

MsLegs

theAudience said:

paligap said:

...

I still remember the first time I heard Allan Holdsworth---- I was listening to Jean Luc Ponty's album, Individual Choice, and I kept going, "Damn, who's that guitar player?".... When I found out it was Holdsworth, I ran out and got "Road Games" and "Metal Fatigue", and promptly got my mind fucked up, lol --I've been a diehard fan ever since....

The thing is, at the time, he was getting praise from guitarists from Eddie Van Halen to George Benson, but he was worried because he wasn't getting airplay--Rock stations thought he was too jazzy , Jazz stations thought it was too rock oriented....

I dunno , to me, he represents the epitome of what "Fusion" should be....






...



Agreed on his indefinable position in the "Fusion" spectrum.

Here's where he describes it the same way you just did...



...Looks like he'd rather be anywhere else than answering those questions. lol



tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431

I can dig it. Let the music & skills do the talking. cool
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Reply #9 posted 03/18/08 12:45pm

theAudience

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blackguitaristz said:

Yep...great thread Aud. I very much like and respect Holdsworth.

He's a monster player.
Not remembering a Bowie connection but in terms of Pop work, Level 42 had his services for a minute.


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #10 posted 03/18/08 12:50pm

MsLegs

theAudience said:

blackguitaristz said:

Yep...great thread Aud. I very much like and respect Holdsworth.

He's a monster player.
Not remembering a Bowie connection but in terms of Pop work, Level 42 had his services for a minute.


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431

Get out of here, this cat worked with Level. I knew he was bad but, I didn't know he was that bad. Wow.
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Reply #11 posted 03/18/08 1:39pm

theAudience

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MsLegs said:

Get out of here, this cat worked with Level.



...I believe he's on 5 of the tracks.

Probably aided by the fact that his buddy Gary Husband was on drums at the time.



tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #12 posted 03/18/08 1:49pm

MsLegs

theAudience said:

MsLegs said:

Get out of here, this cat worked with Level.



...I believe he's on 5 of the tracks.

Probably aided by the fact that his buddy Gary Husband was on drums at the time.



tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431

That's profound. cool
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Reply #13 posted 03/18/08 2:25pm

SPYZFAN1

Huge fan of Allan. I remember reading interviews where EVH said he was one of the "baddest cats on the planet". Supposedly EVH planned to do an entire LP with Allan back in 84 but VH's management and label blocked that from happening.

"Metal Fatigue" was the 1st joint I picked up from him. His keyboard-like chord swells and legato lines are insane. I also love the stuff he did with U.K.
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Reply #14 posted 03/18/08 2:51pm

paligap

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theAudience said:

Level 42 had his services for a minute.


Ndeed! His Solo at the end of "A Kinder Eye" is beautiful!!




...
" I've got six things on my mind --you're no longer one of them." - Paddy McAloon, Prefab Sprout
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Reply #15 posted 03/18/08 5:56pm

MsLegs

SPYZFAN1 said:

Huge fan of Allan. I remember reading interviews where EVH said he was one of the "baddest cats on the planet". Supposedly EVH planned to do an entire LP with Allan back in 84 but VH's management and label blocked that from happening.

"Metal Fatigue" was the 1st joint I picked up from him. His keyboard-like chord swells and legato lines are insane. I also love the stuff he did with U.K.

cool
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Reply #16 posted 03/19/08 12:23pm

theAudience

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carlcranshaw said:

Co-Sign on "Tokyo Dream".

All of "Road Games" and "Metal Fatigue" are great along with the Bruford and Tony Williams records.


http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...GCVk-M7j3U

http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...re=related

http://www.youtube.com/wa...PgDbfZJkSw

disbelief You listen to this stuff and that's all you can do. smile


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #17 posted 03/19/08 6:29pm

blackguitarist
z

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theAudience said:

blackguitaristz said:

Yep...great thread Aud. I very much like and respect Holdsworth.

He's a monster player.
Not remembering a Bowie connection but in terms of Pop work, Level 42 had his services for a minute.


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431

Man Aud, u wouldn't remember a Bowie connection cuz it wasn't Allan who worked with Bowie.....It was Adrian Belew who worked with Bowie.
SynthiaRose said "I'm in love with blackguitaristz. Especially when he talks about Hendrix."
nammie "What BGZ says I believe. I have the biggest crush on him."
http://ccoshea19.googlepa...ssanctuary
http://ccoshea19.googlepages.com
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Reply #18 posted 03/19/08 7:55pm

carlcranshaw

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‎"The first time I saw the cover of Dirty Mind in the early 80s I thought, 'Is this some drag queen ripping on Freddie Prinze?'" - Some guy on The Gear Page
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Reply #19 posted 03/19/08 8:01pm

theAudience

avatar

blackguitaristz said:

theAudience said:


He's a monster player.
Not remembering a Bowie connection but in terms of Pop work, Level 42 had his services for a minute.


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431

Man Aud, u wouldn't remember a Bowie connection cuz it wasn't Allan who worked with Bowie.....It was Adrian Belew who worked with Bowie.

OK. Thanks for updating what you'd said earlier.
You had me thinking i'd missed something Holdsworth had done. smile


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #20 posted 03/19/08 8:24pm

thebige

Allan is great, but let's show respect where due: it's Nels Cline, not Nils! wink



cool
No Sonny T?
No Michael B?
Ain't NPG!

Spider Wisdom: http://bigesayswhat.blogspot.com/

the Manipulations: http://www.myspace.com/themanipulations
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Reply #21 posted 03/19/08 10:19pm

theAudience

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thebige said:

Allan is great, but let's show respect where due: it's Nels Cline, not Nils! wink



cool

Ack...doh!

Thanks, fixed. smile


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #22 posted 03/20/08 1:57am

carlcranshaw

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Adding a little more awesome guitar to this thread.

Here's Ray Gomez!

Jeff Beck gets a lot of credit for things Ray was doing on the "Volume" CD.


http://www.youtube.com/wa...370_T-g-Tw

http://www.youtube.com/wa...08-4BY-LYY

http://www.youtube.com/wa...sZfHvz013E
[Edited 3/20/08 2:01am]
‎"The first time I saw the cover of Dirty Mind in the early 80s I thought, 'Is this some drag queen ripping on Freddie Prinze?'" - Some guy on The Gear Page
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Reply #23 posted 03/20/08 2:40am

Brendan

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Fantastic information for learning (or just reliving).
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Reply #24 posted 03/20/08 8:25am

blackguitarist
z

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theAudience said:

blackguitaristz said:


Man Aud, u wouldn't remember a Bowie connection cuz it wasn't Allan who worked with Bowie.....It was Adrian Belew who worked with Bowie.

OK. Thanks for updating what you'd said earlier.
You had me thinking i'd missed something Holdsworth had done. smile


tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431

Aud, now u KNOW good and well that u wouldn't have missed anything. Especially if he had worked with a cat like Bowie. I've always combined Allan and Adrain together in my mind, for some reason. Mainly because although their both different type of players, they have both impressed me in a similar way. I put them, mentally, in the same type of category. They both execute a uniqueness in their playing. Not color by numbers at all. They're both the type of cats where they really have no references....Meaning u can't detect their influences. Except for Hendrix. Not that they "sound" like Jimi, but I think Jimi influenced their "freedom" to be as expressive as they can be on an axe. I think Jimi is responsible for "opening" up their minds. Jimi influenced them by showing what was possible on a guitar.. In that way, Hendrix DEFINATELY influenced Allan and Adrian.
SynthiaRose said "I'm in love with blackguitaristz. Especially when he talks about Hendrix."
nammie "What BGZ says I believe. I have the biggest crush on him."
http://ccoshea19.googlepa...ssanctuary
http://ccoshea19.googlepages.com
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Reply #25 posted 03/20/08 9:30am

JesseDezz

Here's the audio from a jam with Eddie Van Halen and Allan Holdsworth: http://www.youtube.com/wa...90QkW-ToR8
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Reply #26 posted 03/20/08 3:19pm

Miles

theAudience said:

Thanks to the fact that I grew up listening to my Dad's stellar collection of Jazz records, I have a very deep respect and admiration for musicians (and I use the term in the strictest sense) that are skilled improvisers.

There are some individuals that just refuse to accept being average & ordinary. They are determined to be innovative whether they're really aware of it or not. They are they ones that at young age devote incredible amounts of time to develop extraordinary skills relative to any art form (music, painting, dance, etc.) while others are more concerned with the development of their social lives. And many will generally pay a price for this struggle for excellence.


Well put. A sincere view which I share.
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Reply #27 posted 03/21/08 11:31am

theAudience

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carlcranshaw said:

Adding a little more awesome guitar to this thread.

Here's Ray Gomez!


Ray played on a demo I was working on in the 80s.
Wild dude and insane player.

tA

peace Tribal Disorder

http://www.soundclick.com...dID=182431
"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #28 posted 03/21/08 5:56pm

paligap

avatar

theAudience said:

carlcranshaw said:

Adding a little more awesome guitar to this thread.

Here's Ray Gomez!


Ray played on a demo I was working on in the 80s.
Wild dude and insane player.




biggrin Kool, I didn't know that!

I first heard him because Ray was Narada Michael Walden's Go To guitarist on his early records, just about the same time Ray was also playing on those Stanley Clarke records, around 76-79...




...
" I've got six things on my mind --you're no longer one of them." - Paddy McAloon, Prefab Sprout
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Reply #29 posted 03/21/08 10:27pm

guitarslinger4
4

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Yeah Allan's a bad mofo. I picked up that two-LP-on-one-CD Tony Williams Lifetime collection and even though the tunes were generally pretty bad, Allan's playing (as well as Tony's) made the CD worth listening to again.

Dude's got fantastic tone, better than a lot of metal players, and his note choices are just so damn INTERESTING! So many fusion guys today worship at the Altar of Allan.
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Forums > Music: Non-Prince > Allan Holdsworth - Guitar Player Magazine - April 2008