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Steve Adelson

Concert on the Chapman Stick 2008 DVD $25.
with guest percussionist David Langlois.

from Mel Bay Publications. 51 minutes.

review by Emmett Chapman

Nice touch! Quite a message of ease, versatility and mastery using minimum means. What a pleasure to watch two innovative musicians melding minds and merging spirits with such precision and abandon on their respective percussion instruments. Steve taps on his Grand Stick orchestra of strings and David Langlois' thimble clad fingers provide all the answers on his collection of pots, pans and assorted metallic objects - straight from the heart.

The visual effect is immediate and physical. Steve's hands are all over the board, smoothly tapping from every angle, each sub-technique creating its own novel sound, mood, rhythm and texture. David's responsive fingertips are lightning fast and articulate, a natural extension of his musical mind, an ultimate physical form of expression.

It's a sonic treat as well. Steve makes moderate use of Roland's "VG" multi-effects units, occasionally adding distortion for some right hand lead lines, also adding a thin transposed upper 5th interval for more ethereal themes and chord progressions. In all cases, however, the main "effects" are in his fingers and the interplay between his hands.

And what a great mini-trap drum discovery! Or more to the point, it seems to be David's special gift, a perfect blending by the ideal accompanist, and with those very high metallic frequencies that compliment The Stick so well, filling in the missing musical register. David instantaneously comes up with the sonic and rhythmic answer on his miniaturized, high frequency, tabletop trap drum set - a real time warp!

Steve doesn't follow any typical Stick technique or style, yet his performances are instructive to any Stickist or tapping guitarist, radiating a sense of freedom and infinite possibility. His fingers glide gracefully across the strings and the gestures of his hands express his musical ideas even before the notes are heard.

It's all a jazz performance of course, and when he goes into his walking bass accompaniment, his left hand comes alive and crawling on its own, seemingly with a brain inside. True, it's "on automatic" to some extent, but it's an educated left hand that keeps refining Steve's "Compass Bass System" to greater musical direction and control.

On this DVD they play jazz classics, including those by John Coltrane, Pat Metheny and Wes Montgomery. Steve plays his own songs too, including "Tone Eleven", named by the punster in honor of that Stick artist and stylist who has reached the widest audience for the longest time.

Stick DVDs are like live concerts, providing an immersive learning experience with nonverbal insights into the instrument and the method. Steve's new Mel Bay release, "Concert on The Chapman Stick", takes you beyond that and onto new ground.

All the Best, Emmett.

Sample video excerpts from YouTube:

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