Jim Mccauley - The Ultimate Frog
Featuring raw haunting shadows of other guitarists with similar brave vision (think Lenny Breau or Nels Cline, who is one of the four guest musicians on this double CD), Jim McCauley explores loss and uncharted experimentation. "The Ultimate Frog" is dense with ideas, always with a jazz or folk base, but more often than not this is a record that leaves foundations in the dust for heartier fare.
With the assiatance of Cline, his brother Alex on percussion, Leroy Jenkins on viola/violin and Ken Filiano's sympathetic bass, McCauley is allowed to explore drone, the secret trauma hidden within trad structures, and his own fragile but brave emotional state. Not that this is to imply that the record is some sort of acoustic Plastic Ono Band, though in many ways it is as cathartic.
Each of the guest musicians sits in duet with McCauley, which adds to the loose, fertile vibe of each set. These are intimate but heady outings, insular but with nary a rule close-by to hang on.
All of the twenty four songs here reek of improv, but each musician stays with McCauley's seemingly light, but deft and quick-witted guitar phrasing; each guest is up for the challenge of staying with him, and the results, especially on "The Zone of avoidance" or "Successive Approximations" are stunning.
"The Ultimate Frog" is said to have been recorded while in mourning for his dead wife. If so, Jim McCauley has certianly chanelled his feelings into emotionally potent, open music, but has also delivered to himself as well as to the listener the exhilirating experience of music hopeful and majestic.
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