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Palermo Snow

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Album Review

John Renbourn's 2011 album Palermo Snow, his first new studio recording in 13 years, finds the veteran British guitarist turning in a varied set of acoustic guitar instrumentals that go well beyond the simple designation "folk." Renbourn is joined on some tracks by clarinetist Dick Lee, who first appears several minutes into the seven-minute title tune, a Renbourn original full of textured chording and careful fingerpicking. Lee also adds melodic flavor to such later tracks as the jazzy "Ugly James" and jazz musician Randy Weston's low-key "Little Niles" (which has some of the feel of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat"). Renbourn turns classical with his guitar transpositions of Erik Satie's "Sarabande" and Bach's "Cello Prelude in G," the latter sounding like it might have taken quite a while to work out for guitar, even if it lasts less than three minutes. A bluesy style enters with Renbourn's original "Weebles Wobble (But They Won't Fall Down)" and with the closing cover of "Blueberry Hill." This is the work of a master guitarist who has taken his time to come up with a quality record.


Born: 08 August 1944 in Torquay, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the '60s and '70s, John Renbourn was one of the leading lights of the British folk scene as the founder of the eclectic and innovative folk-rock band the Pentangle, who added the melodic twists and structural freedoms of jazz to the dark but compelling traditions of U.K. folk. After leaving the group, Renbourn went on to a distinguished solo career, where he broadened his repertoire to include classical guitar, and he earned an international reputation as an instrumentalist with remarkable technical...
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Palermo Snow, John Renbourn
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