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Richard Osborn | Giving Voice:  Guitar Explorations

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New Age: Solo Instrumental World: World Fusion Moods: Solo Instrumental
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Giving Voice: Guitar Explorations

by Richard Osborn

Guitar improvisations in a free "raga style", a former student and collaborator with legendary Robbie Basho. Also, this solo debut album is followed by Rich Osborn, "Freehand" published in 2015
Genre: New Age: Solo Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Into the Silent Land
4:53 $0.99
2. The Meeting Pool At Moonrise
7:57 $1.29
3. Joelle's Song
6:09 $1.29
4. The Glance
4:28 $0.99
5. The View from San Damiano, With Rain
10:07 $1.29
6. Knights of the Interior Castle
7:46 $1.29
7. A Song of New Beginnings
7:24 $1.29
8. Hard Time
3:22 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Richard Osborn studied and performed with the legendary guitar trailblazer Robbie Basho in the early 1970's. Together with John Fahey who founded the famous Takoma label, Basho helped to revolutionize the approach to the acoustic steel string guitar, treating it for the first time as a concert solo instrument. Where Fahey had extended the blues and bluegrass fingerpicking traditions way beyond traditional boundaries, Basho opened the instrument up to the possibilities found in classical traditions throughout the world, especially in India, Japan and the Near East.

Around 1980, Rich Osborn injured his left hand, making it impossible to play the guitar. So for almost 20 years he poured his creative energy into painting. But around 1995, he found that he had finally regained enough strength to start playing again. Needless to say, this was a joyous homecoming. For the first 10 years, he worked on classical guitar repertoire. This was because the nylon string guitar has about 40% less tension on the strings, and he felt that after the long hiatus he wanted to develop his "chops" as completely as possible. But for the past 6 or 7 years, his creative energy has returned to the realm of the acoustic steel string guitar. Now fusing the "free raga style" first developed by Robbie Basho with his ear for western classical music as well as other sources, Rich is opening up new music realms with his original compositions. He strives as much as possible to improvise, staying true in that sense to the approach to music of both Indian classical and jazz musicians.

In 2010, Richard Osborn emerged back into public view for the first time when he was included on the compilation album "Beyond Berkeley Guitar" on the Tompkins Square label. This was a concept album, showcasing current guitarists who are influenced by the great Berkeley-based innovators John Fahey and Robbie Basho. While the other guitarists on that album were mostly "20-somethings", Rich alone had actually performed with one of these guitar giants.

His playing has been described in these ways by reviewers:

"Richard Osborn’s 'A Dream Of Distant Summer' begins gently, in an evocative raga-esque mood, then builds in complexity and energy, giving the exhilarating sense of music being discovered as it is played."
(Dusted Magazine)

"Richard Osborn’s gorgeously hazy 'A Dream of Distant Summer' demonstrates an amazingly patient, spacious, and quietly emotive style."
(Acoustic Guitar Magazine)

Rich invites the listener to come with him and share in these journeys into the heart. From the opening "invocation" of his piece "Into the Silent Land" to the dark and dusky closing of "Hard Time", you will traverse many new places as the guitar "gives voice" to these hidden realms of the soul.



to write a review

Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
Many Western musicians have played Indian music, especially with authentic Indian instruments. Several have even played Indian music with synthesizers and electric guitars, the latter of which can sound like sitars with the aid of effects pedals, signal processors, and amplifiers. However, I have never heard a Western musician play Indian music entirely on a single acoustic guitar – until now. Such is the brilliance of West Coast guitarist Rich Osborn.

Based in San Francisco, Osborn uses a nearly one-hundred-year-old acoustic guitar to channel the spirit of Indian ragas, a free-form improvisational style of Indian classical music that is structured loosely enough to allow musicians to take the music in whatever direction their muse leads them. As a result, Osborn starts with basic ideas and rough sketches and ends up creating music in the moment, basically composing as he performs. This gives the music a sense of spontaneity and unpredictability, making it a living, breathing, organic process.

Although Osborn’s compositions and the cultural inspiration behind them are remarkable, it is Osborn’s overall performance that is the real star. He plays with no accompaniment, and with little or no overdubs. All the sound is pretty much him in the act of musical creation. He plays lead, backup, melody, and harmony all at once. And if that weren’t enough, he manages to achieve the full sound of Indian ragas all by his lonesome. This is a rare art form delivered with masterful skill and craft by an even rarer artist.

bucknbronx music

food for the soul
ahhhhhh.....something soothing and nourishing for the soul. engaging, melodic compositions drawn from a deep well. more spacious and open-ended, and thus less predictable than the familiar finger-picking styles of fahey, kotke, or even basho.

Helena Dee

Acoustic guitarist Rich Osborn says he tries to include “strong melodic content, interesting thematic development, and a sense of organic unity within each piece.” He also says he plays in a “free raga style” which acknowledges his influences in the field of music from India (he cites sarod player Ali Akbar Kahn). Osborn gives quite a performance on what appears to be his first album, Giving Voice - Guitar Explorations, even though he has been around awhile.

Osborn finger-picks a steel-string acoustic guitar that is about a hundred years old, and he is in total harmony with his instrument, simpatico as the Latin countries say, becoming as one with the guitar. It is difficult to describe, but he seems to know how to coax every nuance out of the instrument, every note placed in just the right context. It is not as simple as picking a key and playing notes within it. On instruments such as guitar and piano, a group of notes played at the same time make up a chord. But what about clusters of notes played in succession with a few overlapping? Does the ringing, but fading sound of the previous notes (or even the memory of those notes) mix with the current notes to form a sort of chord in our minds? What I am getting at is that Osborn’s selection of notes resonates together in a harmonic balance that feels as rich and satisfying as a chord, but has more delicacy as well as emotional depth and individuality because the notes are performed finger-picking-style. Whether he is playing a part of the tune that he has written, or a section that he left open for improvisation, you get the feeling that he carefully chooses each note, that he cares deeply about each note and that each note has to metaphysically fit in just the right place within the whole. Who knows how and why the music of Rich Osborn conjures up these thoughts and feelings. But suffice to say there is something deeper going on with this music than just a few random notes plucked on a guitar.

Go exploring with Rich Osborn, a guitar master who should have been recording albums before this debut. But let’s be grateful that he finally put one out for us to enjoy, and that it is so strongly heartfelt. Bravo.