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Review: Pete Oxley, Nicolas Meier - Travels To The West
Album Cover - Travels To The West
Travels To The West
 Artist: Pete Oxley, Nicolas Meier
 Album: Travels To The West
 Date of Release: 2012/11
 Label: MGP Records
 Cat. No.: MGPCD008
 Country of Release: UK
 Genre/s: Jazz

 Sub-Genre/s: Contemporary, Post-Bop, World Jazz
 Type: Live
   Time: 65:44
   Date of Review: 2012/09/14
   Web Site:,
   Sample Track

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Travels To The West

To be released on the excellent guitar-oriented MGP label this November, Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier's Travels To The West is a perhaps long overdue project from this excellent guitar duo who are also part of the superb Eclectica! 'string quartet' with a difference. The present duo was recorded live on tour in the English West Country during November last year. The result is little short of spectacular.

Oxley and Meier, both long established among the leading guitar maestros on the British scene, play a variety of guitars (and, in the case of Meier, also guitar-like instruments such as the glissentar, a fretless, 11-string guitar modeled to facilitate the smooth glissando of the arabic oud and to approximate its sonority, and the baglama, a Middle Eastern instrument of the long-necked lute family popular in folk music but lately also making inroads into particularly Turkish art music), in a variety of combinations. Thus, both players have the opportunity to display their individual styles on various instruments while at the same time creating fascinating soundscapes together.

No less fascinating is their selection of material on Travels To The West. Of the ten tracks, three each are originals by Meier and Oxley respectively. We have encountered these excellent compositions previously on albums by Eclectica! and Meier's trios and his Meier Group. The remaining four tracks are classics. But what classics! We have Milton Nascimento's Vera Cruz, Pat Matheny's Travels, and two of Chick Corea's best known and best loved titles, the immortal Spain and Armando's Rumba! The blend of these originals and classics is just exquisite.

This demanding material receives the most exquisite interpretations from the excellent Oxley/Meier duo, with breath-taking ensemble playing and equally breath-taking improvs. Spain could be rated powerful enough to become a peer of Corea's original version with Return To Forever on the Light As A Feather album of 1971 (if memory serves re: the date). Like the original version, this opens powerfully, emotively with part of the adagio from Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. For my money, the Oxley/Meier version certainly easily surpasses the old de Lucia/McLaughlin one. This track alone would easily be worth the price of admission, though this is by no means to say that the remaining tracks are not equally strong.

A new classy guitar duo or trio album has long been overdue on the British scene, and Travels To The West certainly fits the bill perfectly. If it has one 'flaw,' it is that it leaves one hunger for more of this kind. The fact that it is a live recording recorded on tour is a great boon. It enhances the atmosphere infinitely over a cold studio setting.

A further bonus is the excellently designed digipak which makes purchase of the CD, rather than digital downloads, practically mandatory. This includes the cover (front and rear), which is derived from an exquisite painting by Songul Yilmaz Meier, Meier's incredibly gifted wife incidentally. A scene from the Dorset coast, if I am not entirely mistaken, specifically with the Isle of Portland in the background. From a distance, you might think this is a photograph, as with many of this artist's outstanding paintings.

To speak of consistency seems more than superfluous in the context of the Oxley/Meier duo generally I'm sure, and this album in particular certainly. Moreover, Travels To The West is utterly mesmerising, with a charm that is completely irresistible. You want to listen to this beautiful album again, and again. Innovative, inventive and as inspired as it is inspiring, this music is a perfect dream that you don't want to end.

Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier's Travels To The West is an album to die for and an absolute must have not just for the aficionado of jazz guitar but of contemporary jazz in general. Prior to general release, it is available from the label's web site. So what are you waiting for?

© 2012 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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Track List:

 1. Esmeralda (N. Meier) - 8:15
 2. Vera Cruz (M. Nascimento) - 4:52
 3. The Butterfly Touch (P. Oxley) - 6:30
 4. Spain (C. Corea) - 6:34
 5. Breeze (N. Meier) - 7:54
 6. Flight of Fancy (P. Oxley) - 6:03
 7. Travels (P. Matheny) - 9:16
 8. Lodder Leaps In (P. Oxley) - 4:07
 9. Yemin (N. Meier) - 8:03
10. Armando's Rumba (C. Corea) - 3:43

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Pete Oxley - nylon string guitar (1,3,4,6,10); steel string guitar (9); jazz guitar (7,8); electric 12 string guitar(2,5)
Nicolas Meier - nylon string guitar (3,4,6,8,10); steel string guitar (1,7); jazz guitar (2); glissentar (5); baglama (9)


Purchasing Info:

Travels To The West can be purchased:

Direct from MGP Records

From most general CD stores and online sources from November 2012

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