Places Between: John Williams & John Etheridge Live in Dublin
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It's easy to get lost in the swirl of string activity produced by this pair of virtuoso guitarists, but that's the idea: John Williams and John Etheridge dance around one another, dart in and out of the other's mesmerizing solo, then fuse seamlessly once again. Recorded, as the title says, live in Dublin, Williams and Etheridge are both sensitive and detail-oriented players sporting a strong sense of melody and dazzling technique, but neither is afraid to let loose with a scorching run that simultaneously teases the boundaries of classical guitar (Williams' domain) and approaches progressive rock or jazz fusion intensity (no doubt Etheridge's input). There's a decided world music influence here, with songs by African artists Mory Kanté and Francis Bebey in the repertoire, but a low-key but shining rendition of the Billie Holiday staple "God Bless the Child" and the three-part "Peace, Love and Guitars," written by another ace guitarist/composer, Benjamin Verdery, are also beyond stunning. Williams' natural classical leanings mesh naturally with Etheridge's electrifying steel-string, often adding up to a full-bodied sound that could pass for a full band.