What better vehicle for the artistry a most gifted guitarist – Eric McGarry – than playing his own compositions on his album As I Am, As You Are, to ravish the senses of the listener? The musicality of the works – melodic invention, intricate harmonic conception and praiseworthy rhythmic orientation certainly facilitates this showcase worthy of musicians who are considerably better-known, some of whom may even be more experienced in years and performance experience.
The works represented here are both individual and inspired. Much of the work has a gentle evocativeness about it [cue Inhale, Exhale, for example], while others may be more meditative [such as Transcendence] and still others lively and even rambunctious [such as Forward Towards the Light]. The combustible energy and propulsion of the latter comes, no doubt from the alto saxophone of Melvin Toussaint, who then provokes the drummer Steven Perry to cut loose and bring an almighty rumble, rattle, and roll of the drums, heightened by a fierce hissing of the cymbals throughout.
The central – existentialist – theme of the song As I Am, As You Were is seductively managed – sample the poetic playing by Mr McGarry throughout the piece. This is something that we hear in the guitarist’s playing throughout the album. His marvelous control of tone and pitch is utterly captivating. And he is wonderfully supported by a group of individual musicians who are superbly attuned to his vision and artistry.
All this makes for a truly ravishing programme in which Mr McGarry’s masterly control of momentum and drama through register, texture and ornament is fully brought out by his highly expressive, cantabile and colouristic playing. These are miniatures, yes, but even in the shortest of the works, the lyrical intensity is as profound as that in longer pieces. All told we are introduced to a musician who shows more than remarkable promise – but maturity enough to produce repertoire that many attempts by bigger or better-known artists will have a hard time matching.
Tracks – 1: Migration; 2: Monocarpia; 3: Forward Towards the Light; 4: Tides; 5: Inhale, Exhale; 6: Transcendence; 7: As I Am, As You Were
Musicians – Eric McGarry: electric guitar and acoustic guitar; Micah Graves: concert grand piano and Fender Rhodes [1, 3, 4]; Melvin Toussaint: alto saxophone; Pete Dennis: contrabass; Steven Perry: drum set. With – Ross Bellenoit: lap steel guitar  and auxiliary percussion [1, 2, 4]
Released – 2023
Label – Independent
Runtime – 44:32