David Burgess,
Silver Nuggets & Fool's Gold
(Tritone, 2000)

Guitarist David Burgess strums his Latin American style on this instrumental CD titled Silver Nuggets & Fool's Gold. The recording contains 18 solos featuring music from eight countries -- Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru, Spain and Venezuela. Styles range from tangos, sambas and flamenco jazz to classical and traditional melodies.

Burgess, a longtime Seattle resident currently living in New York City, has had extensive training, studying guitar in Mexico, Italy and the U.S. He has traveled widely in Spain and Latin America. It was during these journies that he collected the various tunes found on the CD.

The first two pieces are Brazilian. "Samba do Aviao" and "Odeon" are both catchy little tunes with an upbeat flavor. Another Brazilian work is "Berimbau." This is the only melody I really do not care for. "Berimbau" starts and ends as the guitar strings are plinked to produce an annoying percussive noise. The berimbau is an instrument of African origin which I believe Burgess is trying to imitate. Fortunately, there are 17 better tunes on the CD. Two slow and mellow Brazilian recordings include "Parati" and Se Todos Fossem Iquais a Voce."

"La Catedral" is from Paraguay and has a very somber and serious feel to it. In my opinion, the most Latin-sounding tune is the Venezuelan "Seis por Derecho." One of my more favorite melodies, "La Misionera," hails from Argentina. It has a quicker tempo and I can definitely appreciate the talent required to play this varied piece. "Tango en Skai" is better at keeping your attention with its melodic flow. Perhaps the tango is responsible for that. The liner notes do not mention where it originated from.

Three pieces showcase Spain. I really like "Leyenda." It draws you in leaving you feeling like it is too short even at 6 minutes and 45 seconds! David does a decent job on "Sonata in D" although it is not all that memorable. "Invocation and Dance" is a very dramatic tune with lots of musical emotion. You can feel the highs and lows, the passion and the turmoil this tune invokes.

"Danza del Altiplano" and "El Condor Pasa" are two of my favorite traditional instrumentals from South America. Although both are from different countries (Boliva and Peu), you can definitely hear the influence of the Andes and picture the remains of the Incan culture. Burgess interpretations are decent although neither is as good as more authentic renditions. I do not really fancy the personal flavor he adds to either one. However, if you are unfamiliar with both tunes, you do not have to be worried about being biased as I am.

This CD would be great background music for a restaurant or candlelit dinner at home. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate Silver Nuggets & Fool's Gold a solid 7. Burgess is a talented guitar player for sure. Personally, my favorite instrumental guitar player is Ottmar Liebert. However, David Burgess is not far behind him. I will have to see what Burgess does on his next CD.

[ by Wil Owen ]

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