Curtis Nolan is a musician from Ontario who went to school for jazz guitar. He recently released a complete DIY album entitled Destination Unknown. It’s an instrumental album that blends elements of both jazz and blues. The music felt mellow and carefree. There is a good amount of lead guitar and some hints of Django Reinhardt.
Like a lot of styles of jazz it felt very ambient and perfect for background music. I don’t say that as a bad thing. In fact that’s how music is listened to quite often whether it's at a party where everyone is talking or while you're writing your thesis for graduate school. This album is one you can just press play and let it ride. The songs all have a very similar vibe and blend into each other partially because a lot of it is improvised. On that note all the songs are relatively short with none going above the three-minute mark.
One thing I think Nolan should work on is the recording quality. This quality may work for garage rock but on instrumental guitar jazz I want to hear every nuance of the music. It’s one style of music that in my opinion needs clarity. I want to hear each finger slide and bend.
I can't say there were any highlights on the album that really stuck out. As I mentioned earlier this album is one where he could have split the tracks up or let the whole thing ride as one long song. Suffice it to say if you dig the first track you will enjoy the last.
Soft instrumental guitar jazz isn’t exactly a style that headlines festivals like Lollapalooza or Pitchfork. This type of music is usually presented at hip coffee shops and pubs. It’s a relatively niche style especially for a younger generation. If Nolan wants to gain a large audience he may have to bend a little bit and at the very least add vocals. On the other hand if Nolan wants to stay with the more traditional jazz and blues rotes he may have to give some thought of how a niche crowd can discover his music.
Destination Unknown is a solid instrumental guitar jazz album. He certainly has some technical skill and I look forward to hearing more soon.
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