Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier ‘Chasing Tales’ (MGP) 3/5 & 4/5

pete-oxley-nicolas-meierPete Oxley and Nicolas Meier are two outstanding guitarists who have joined forces to release “Chasing Tales”, their second album together as a duo. The follow-up to “Travels to the West”, a live recording, “Chasing Tales” is a studio album that allows the duo the time and space to enjoy themselves in a studio setting. As they explain: “We have taken advantage of the studio to broaden the compositional and arranging ideas, on some tracks layering many guitars. However, there was still a great spontaneity about this project: in a rush of energy, the music was written, arranged, rehearsed, recorded, mixed and mastered within three months.” Both men have a formidable CV; Oxley having performed with leading jazz artists Gilad Atzmon, Tim Whitehead, Dave O’Higgins and John Etheridge, while Meier is currently guitarist in Jeff Beck’s band and has an enviable reputation for performing a heady mixture of Flamenco, jazz, Latin and Middle Eastern music. The quality of the two guitarists shines through on the recording. The listener is taken on a journey that encompasses many different styles, employing a myriad of string instruments along the way. Oxley and Meier’s skill and virtuosity as guitarists is never in question, but here is my issue with this album: When does sounding like somebody else change from influence to imitation? It is impossible to listen to this album without thinking of one person: Pat Metheny. Personally I am a huge Metheny fan having enjoyed and been inspired by his music for many years. But if I wanted to listen to a Pat Metheny album I would go buy a Pat Metheny album. It’s not just the playing style, chords and soloing employed on certain tracks, it’s also the sounds used on the guitars- you could be listening to the great man himself. Now that in one way is a huge compliment to the brilliance of the duo’s technical ability, but it also leaves me finding it difficult to move beyond this point whilst listening to the recording. That said, there is originality to be heard and on tracks such as “Chasing Kites”, “Compass Points”, “Libra” and the Eastern sounding “Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim” I thoroughly enjoyed the duo’s masterful and at times touching performances. Notwithstanding the aforementioned gripe, I would relish the opportunity to see Oxley and Meier perform live. This could well be the best setting to enjoy their music. The duo are currently into the second half of their UK tour, catch them while you can.

Remaining Tour dates:
31/03: Dempseys, Cardiff.
01/04: Jazzland, Swansea.
04/04: Worton Organic Garden, Oxford.

Mike Gates Rating 3/5

Following up on an extremely well received live recording, the pair of guitarists Pete Oxley (UK) and Nicolas Meier (Switzerland) have gone into the studio to lay down some with compositions more or less evenly divided between the two (and giving each musician the opportunity to solo at length) and an interpretation of a Turkish vocal classic with flamenco, jazz manouche (gypsy jazz), Latin and Middle Eastern musical flavours all being showcased.

The album starts off on a triumphant note with some fine interplay between the two on ‘The followers’ which has a definite nod towards Pat Metheny and the use of a nylon-stringed guitar merely reinforces that perception. An obvious highlight is the title track where the duo cook up a storm and engage in some friendly competitive trading of licks. There are just shades here of the virtuosity and sheer love of music that was a hallmark of the landmark trio guitar recordings that Paco de Lucia, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola engaged in some thirty plus years ago and the latter surely serve as an inspiration to both Oxley and Meier. From a melodic perspective, the relaxed feel to ‘Looking West’ conjurs up Django Reinhardt territory, albeit one that has been given a deliberately modern twist with Oxley taking the first solo. A lengthy UK tour began back in early February at the Pizza Express and will continue until 4 April at various venues.

Tim Stenhouse Rating 4/5