Sunday, June 24, 2007

Phil Keaggy - "On The Fly" {USA} [1997] (Instrumental)

Here is Phil Keaggy with the distinctive Parker Fly guitar that this album is named after. If you choose this you will hear some real Virtuoso and inspirational guitar music.

Many should know that Phil was leader of the late 60's early 70's band Glass Harp. In fact their first album was recorded at Electric Ladyland studios (after Jimi Hendrix was impressed with Phil when Glass Harp played support act to the Jimi Hendrix Experience). They gained a contract with Decca, toured the country several times, and had a growing base of devoted fans, many of whom were knocked out by Keaggy's lightning-fast guitar riffs and experimental sounds. At their pinnacle, Glass Harp was opening for such major acts as Iron Butterfly, Yes, Traffic and Chicago. Previously, at the age if 16 Phil had appeared on 2 singles for the Squires and New Hudson Exit.

Phil was to leave the Glass Harp after a bad acid trip coincided with a car accident which killed his mother. However, he does still join up with ex members for various Glass Harp ventures.

Phil's solo output is quite large and 'On The Fly' is one of my favourites.

Walking Sequence 1
Interspersed throughout and among the tracks are special, reflective moments (performed on the Fly, and in the case of Track 3, with the E-Bow), each serving to express the moods of the pieces that follow, as well as to calm and settle the anxious and weary. Also heard are the walking sequences, recorded after a Tennessee rain and accompanied by the atmospheric sounds of bells, wind, thunder, and distant fog horns--all familiar sounds to our intrepid traveler.

Praise Dance
"On The Fly`s" puerto de partida is the flamenco-flavored fling, "Praise Dance". With this tune, Phil demonstrates how the contribution of Spanish musical thought, intermingled with the celebration of dance and cinematic beauty, go quite hand in hand. The result is the very stuff that makes good stories and music a cherished memory. In creating this piece, Keaggy found himself inspired by the idea of giving music as a gift, as well as the communion of shared joys and experiences. The piece announces itself with bold percussive statement, which makes way for a suite of guitar, mandolin, and fretless bass tracks against backdrop of texture and chordal space. Eric Darken tastefully augment`s Phil`s programmed drum tracks with multiple passes of live, vibrant percussion showcased in the well placed breakdowns. I have added a copy of Praise Dance (Radio Edit) which does not appear on the album.

Jack Ballard`s original musical sketch, "Firewalker", provides the setting for a veritable Parker Fly guitar exhibition. A pair of rhythm guitar parts completes the stage for a vintage Keaggy solo, while Lynn Williams` energetic drumming propels the piece. Multi-instrumentalist Wanda Vick Burchfield (of "Prime Time Country" notoriety) turns in a brilliant fiddle solo, while Jack Ballard contributes keyboards and electric bass.

The Way Of The Pilgrim
"The Way Of The Pilgrim", a suite for acoustic guitar(s), recalls Phil`s earlier "Acoustic Sketches" project. Playing his Langejans acoustic, and aided by a Lexicon JamMan, all multiple guitar parts occur in "live" settings, progressing from quiet contemplative moments that eventually yield to the dazzling, percussive adventures that lurk around each corner. Thematically, the piece traces the pilgrim`s journey, from his original vision to ultimate return, complete with moments of doubt, trepidation, confidence--and triumph.

In Memorium
We witness another side of Phil Keaggy with his composition "In Memorium". Perhaps more evident here than "Phil the guitarist" is "Phil the composer". The opening moments feature a haunting Vaughan Williamsesque theme played on guitar with Keaggy`s trademark volume swells. The harmonizing lines are accented with pizzicato figures, creating the feel and atmosphere of a small orchestra. A string quartet (emulated by Phil with a Korg keyboard), accompanied by a McCartney-ish acoustic guitar part, sets the stage for the movements to come. A tasteful and melodic classical guitar line emerges, and the piece begins to blossom. As the intensity develops, a lead played on the Parker Fly (with a sweet dose of distortion) comes in to take the listener away as it continues to paint its aural pictures. A particularly moving segment features the E-Bow, a hand-held device that magnetically excites the guitar`s strings, creating a beautiful, if not eerie effect. Rhythmic punctuation is provided courtesy of Lynn Williams, whose wonderful work can also be heard on Keaggy`s instrumental Sparrow release "220".

Inspired by the duet work of classical guitarists Julian Bream and John Williams, Keaggy proves that two guitars are definately a party, as he lays down the two tracks for "Homecoming". From the liner notes of the Bream/Williams collaboration, and echoed here by Phil, comes Chopin`s words: "Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save two." The guitar heard in this "duet by one" is the delightful Paul McGill resonator. "I think this guitar is a gem," says Keaggy, "with a sonic character all its own. You`ll not find this kind of tone just anywhere." Like other moments on this album, "Homecoming" prefers to take the long route home, stopping to visit old musical friends on the final leg of this journey. One such companion is Phil`s 1981 tune "Town To Town", themes of which are suggested here. Other moments include both Spanish and Celtic flavors, along with a good measure of the folk tradition.

The Sojourner
A Weather Report-inspired groove lays the foundation for "The Sojourner", a "Churchill" of a guitar piece. Recorded in a single, non-stop session late one night, Keaggy found the setting ripe for an uninhibited and spontaneous creative musical stream of consciousness. "I don`t think I`ve ever played so continuously and felt so much of it feeling so inspired," says Keaggy. "I was totally caught up in the event. To me, this was one of the most satisfying half hours ever spent with my instrument." It wasn`t until Phil saw the 30-minute tape coming to an end of its spool that he locked into a motif that would take the piece out. The end result is a wonderful journey--an adventure replete with explorations and discovery. It is as much a study in extemporaneous expression as it is a library of musical ideas--the latter being fodder for long-time friend, bandmate and producer, Lynn Nichols, who suggested another title for the piece: "I Never Met A Riff I Didn`t Like". Phil later laid down the bass track--punching in each section with his "trusty and dusty" Gibson G-3 as he "learned" the piece--providing a low-end melodic counter-balance to his inspired guitar lines. Percussionist Eric Darken overlaid his rhythmic genius, thoroughly complimenting the programmed track that started the whole adventure. Keaggy gives much of the credit for the creation of this piece to the special guitar he played that night--and on much of this album. "Since I had been doing so much acoustic work," he says, "playing the Parker Fly was such a refreshing experience. It enabled me to feel excited about the textures and possibilities of an electric." Indeed, the piece is a testament to Ken Parker`s instrumental brainchild. "The Parker Fly," says Phil, "is a great achievement in guitar technology. If you ever play one, you`ll find it difficult to put down, as I found in the case of "The Sojourner"!

01 - Walking Sequence 1 00:59
02 - Praise Dance 06:53
03 - Reflective Moment 1 01:16
04 - Firewalker 04:53
05 - Reflective Moment 2 02:10
06 - The Way Of The Pilgrim (14:45)
a) - Vision 01:08
b) - Longing 02:42
c) - Pursuit 02:59
d) - The Journey 03:11
e) - The Return 01:54
f) - Rest 02:55
07 - Reflective Moment 3 02:37
08 - In Memorium 06:03
09 - Homecoming 04:55
10 - The Sojourner 24:21
11 - Reflective Moment 4 00:59
12 - Walking Sequence 2 00:40
Bonus: Praise Dance (Radio Edit) 04:31
Note: The sample rates vary but Solourner is 192. Very listenable to.

Some samples can be heard here:

Phil's official website has some samples of recent releases here:

I may well post some selective PK acoustic or blues posts if anyone shows interest.

Finally - I've been away from the net for some time (wont bore anyone with the reasons why). But, I am back again so Hello folks!!!


ZaXXoN said...

Anonymous said...

PHIL KEAGGY is an amazing guitar player. Belive me, if you happen to study this b... instrument, Phil Keaggy's music may discourage you. His style is as fluid as unique. Like musicians of his kind, he plays in a very open-minded genre. I love his music!


Anonymous said...

The player doesn't work

ZaXXoN said...

Hmm - Yes you are correct the player does not work, at least not from the Blog. If I try it within the Post Edit - It works - Strange... I will attempt an update on that - Sorry I never checked in the blog.

MABT said...

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