NICOLAS MEIER — Nicolas Meier World Group : Magnificent - Live - Stories (review)

NICOLAS MEIER — Nicolas Meier World Group : Magnificent - Live - Stories album cover Album · 2021 · World Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
On Nicolas Meier’s latest album he decided to give his fans an extra treat, in that what we have here is not one, or two, but three CDs of excellent music. First there is “Magnificent”, a studio album featuring his ‘World Group’ ensemble, then there is, “Live”, which is the same group recorded in concert, and finally, “Stories”, which is Nicolas performing solo. The group is the same one that recorded the previous “Peaceful”, Kevin Glasgow on bass, Richard Jones on violin, Demi Garcia-Sabat on percussion and Nicolas on a variety of guitars. In fact, “Live” is made up of the same tracks that were featured on “Peaceful”, only performed in front of an audience this time around.

Nicolas’ compositions draw from a mix of Spanish, Turkish, Balkan, Middle-Eastern and North African influences. His ensemble, with its mix of violin, unfretted guitar, high end fretless bass and hand percussion is perfect for this style of music. Much of the music from the aforementioned cultures leans heavily on unfretted string instruments that allow for the colorful ornaments that are added to the melodies. We are all familiar with western artists such as Paul Simon or David Byrne who plunder other cultures and then cast them aside. Such is not the case with Meier who displays a deep understanding and commitment to the cultures he is interested in. His original compositions breathe these various musical styles in a very natural way. Nicolas is an excellent composer with a gift for remarkable melodies that capture the sounds of the different regions that inspire him, which he then presents with art pop gem like structures reminiscent of artists like Brian Wilson or Brian Eno.

The band has very balanced interactions in which soloists and accompanists blend to make an ensemble sound of intertwining voices. Particularly noteworthy is how Jones will add counter melodies on the violin behind Meier’s guitar solos. On the live CD, Jones occasionally uses an echo device which gives the band an expansive psychedelic sound. On the solo CD, Nicolas covers several jazz standards and shows he is no slouch on the jazz tip with his broad open sound similar to Pat Metheny or Bill Frisell. One surprise is a reading of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” which becomes a jazz standard with a few chord extensions here and there.
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