The Georgia Guitar Quartet | Puzzle

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Classical: Contemporary Avant Garde: Modern Composition Moods: Type: Experimental
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by The Georgia Guitar Quartet

Four virtuoso guitarists from Athens, Georgia perform their own compositions on this compelling sonic journey.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Prelude
2:30 $0.99
2. Flight
4:02 $0.99
3. Piece One
1:59 $0.99
4. Pan
12:09 $0.99
5. Piece Two
2:12 $0.99
6. Middle of Somewhere 1
12:52 $0.99
7. Middle of Somewhere 2
4:27 $0.99
8. Piece Three
2:12 $0.99
9. La Vague 1
2:27 $0.99
10. La Vague 2
3:41 $0.99
11. La Vague 3
4:11 $0.99
12. La Vague 4
1:38 $0.99
13. Piece Four
3:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The latest release from the Georgia Guitar Quartet is a rare project among guitar ensembles: Puzzle features solely original works by members Kyle Dawkins, Brian Smith, Phil Snyder, and Jason Solomon. This companion recording to 2004’s Mosaic (also on Solponticello) fully engages the group’s collective propensity to explore new textures, colors, and forms. Puzzle is an outgrowth and extension of the quartet’s previous endeavors – a diverse sonic vocabulary and emergent musical environment. Journeying from their start in Athens, Georgia to the world stage, the Georgia Guitar Quartet is thoroughly expanding the notion of classical music, bridging into the 21st century.


Puzzle opens with an impromptu Prelude. Its shape is defined by layers and dynamics, with melodic ideas attempting to materialize but remaining unrealized.


Kyle Dawkins' Flight initiates the quasi-tonal, minimalist atmosphere that pervades much of Puzzle. Expanded sounds and percussive elements play an important role in sculpting this soundscape.


Fragmented from a larger work by Jason Solomon entitled Puzzle, the four Pieces interspersed throughout the album function as interludes binding together the recording as a whole. It is a large-scale transformational process with four seemingly disparate motives. The parts repeat incessantly while undergoing gradual and systematic permutation until they eventually merge into the same melodic shape.


Pan is a structured improvisation designed by all four members of the quartet. A skeletal form featuring key moments was established at the outset, while the connecting and fleshing out unfolded freely during the recording session. Themes from other works on the CD are woven throughout Pan, as well as some recycled material from Mosaic.


Solomon's Middle of Somewhere is a one-way trip, a musical venture that starts and ends in two completely different places. The transition between these two points is continuous, with the landscape changing very slowly. Middle of Somewhere is divided into 6 discrete locations; however, these sections overlap and meld into one another, lending a sense of seamless progress to the music. Beginning with silence punctuated by noise, the piece ultimately concludes in song-oriented terrain.


The appearance of the cello at the end of Middle of Somewhere forecasts the instrumentation of La Vague by Kyle Dawkins. Phil Snyder performs on cello and Dawkins trades his guitar for a banjo. This is a beautiful work balancing notions of stasis and propulsion, struggle and achievement, a fitting metaphor for the larger picture of the Georgia Guitar Quartet.



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Flagpole Magazine
Classical is a mathematical music that relies on complex structure, absolute virtuosity and an often devastating but ordered beauty. And Puzzle is clearly the work of immense talent. During the past decade or so, the Georgia Guitar Quartet has gracefully and cunningly picked its way through a wide spectrum of the classical canon, from Bach to Grieg, even veering occasionally into gorgeous jazz programs. The first of the group's four albums to consist entirely of original compositions, Puzzle walks a tightrope between the avant-garde and the accessible, citing Cage as well as Ralph Towner along the way.

Most prominent are the proudly displayed compositional skills. Each of the quartet's members has a few pieces of his own, while only two tracks are collective efforts. "Prelude," one of the latter, leads off the set with pure texture and sets a plaintive, abstract mood. "Flight" veers from hard strumming to scraping and knocking percussion to plucked strings, building toward a big payoff any fan of "regular" guitar can dig. "La Vague" spreads over four tracks and is the most overtly classical piece here… and the best. Wonderful picked melodies wax and wane, quietly lulling until a mournful cello swoops under their wings and slows the tempo.

The fact that guitars are being wielded here signifies that many otherwise shut ears could give the Georgia Guitar Quartet a chance rather than assuming an image of stuffed-shirt elders holding brandy snifters. Puzzle deserves as many open minds as it can get; the ultimate payoff would be for these minds to follow the band's lead into the geometrical beauty of the classical world.

Sea of Tranquility
The Georgia Guitar Quartet is Kyle Dawkins (guitar & banjo), Brian Smith (7-string guitar), Phil Snyder (guitar & cello), and Jason Solomon (guitar & harmonica). These four musicians have put together a weaving, twisting, sometimes melodic, often times complex & dissonant instrumental record here with Puzzle, their follow-up to 2004's Mosaic. Not as over the top and flamboyant as the super guitar trios featuring various formations of DiMeola, MacLaughlin, Coryell, DeLucia, and Lagrene, nor as melodic and jubilant as the California Guitar Trio, The Georgia Guitar Quartet performs acoustic music for the avant-garde fan. Many of the pieces here come across as improvisations ("Middle of Somewhere"), while others seem to have some sort of structure and see the players locking into some serious synergetic and complex interplay ("Piece Three" and "Piece Two" especially). Snyder's mournful cello really hits the mark on the second part of "La Vague", and the quartet really cooks on the intricate "Piece Four". The real highlight though is the 12-minute "Pan", a lush, pastoral number that is both charming yet highly dramatic, as the band uses all the instruments at their disposal to create music that borders prog, jazz, and World music styles, sort of like the great band Oregon. Chalk up a winner for this avant-garde acoustic ensemble from Athens.

Department of Virtuosity (Poland)

The Georgia Guitar Quartet - Puzzle
This band, coming from Athens (Georgia, USA), is made up of musically educated instrumentalists who are inspired by classical greatest composers and rock legends. They also collaborated with dance groups and was awarded "Best Classical Artist" by their home town. Jason Solomon plays the guitar and harmonica. As fas as his education goes, he achieved Ph.D. in music theory, a Master's degree in classical guitar performance and Bachelor degrees in both music composition and performance. Currently, he teaches theory and composition at Georgia Southern University. Phil Snyder is a guitar player and cellist. He is a Doctor of Musical Arts in guitar performance and teaches at Berry College and LaGrange College. Next is a 7-string guitarist - Brian Smith who is also a professional musician and multi-instrumentalist being able to play on percussion, double bass, electric bass and guitar plus drums in many styles. I will not surprise you when I state he is the next teacher amid his colleagues as well. Kyle Dawkins plays the guitar and banjo and can also boast of musical background. Apart from this band, he performs as a solo artist and teaches at Gainesville State College.

They recorded three albums with the compositions of other composers, but their time has come and "Puzzle" is a total sum of Americans' original instrumental ideas. If an album is published through Solponticello, it can't be totally normal music, haha. Obviously, I mean something that has nothing to do with an ordinary and strictly defined style with usual musicians in a band. Beyond any doubt, it is a musical jigsaw-puzzle-mania being hard to be decoded. On the other hand, we can suspect melodies at some moments. Here are lots of improvisations, experimental tricks and tonal plays on the strings. All the modulations of themes are performed with atypical contrariness. Some fragments can seem to be played with apathy, whereas others are fully upbeat. It isn't an accusation, but only my own observation. The quartet acts in an interface where everyone can feed back to another one with his tones. They play flatly and forcibly at faster moments, however here are also some fragments which can seem to be discordant, but it's only an illusory impression.

The Americans' music can be amicable if you will rack your brains a little bit. Every perceptive listener will find something for him/her in a tangle of twisted tones. The music on "Puzzle" is bity eccentric, yet bearable and should be hold high in the world of experimental music. Yes, they are undoubtedly exponents of the experimental genre, overlooking many mediocre groups. A scientific music on a highly intellectual level indeed. Ladies and Gentlemen, four guitarmen on board and let's go!