Episodes in Virtuosity: John Williams & John Etheridge

The word virtuoso is defined as, "a musician who is a consummate master of technique and artistry." or "… an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability at singing or playing a musical instrument." 

When I decided to that I was going to be a serious (classical) musician, I regarded this word with esteem and respect. I saw the aspiration for virtuosity as a means of achieving self-actualization, and decided to dedicate my life towards this realization. However, like so many things, after six years of conservatory training the shine wore off this word and I fear that I have lost my reverence for the beautiful. After all, art is the habit of the artist. Nevertheless, it is my intent to use this platform to (re)discover, admire, and share music/musicians of the highest caliber, in any and all genres, strictly for the purpose of listening to Music worth listening to.

John Williams & John Etheridge: Places Between

?In 2006 Sony released an album of two John's – Williams and Etheridge. The former is the legendary classical virtuoso and the latter is an exemplary jazz guitarist. The album's content is a hodgepodge of classical, jazz, world, and a few visits to the places between. The mixing of their own musical languages sounds effortless and having seen them perform I know it can look that way too. These two are marvelously talented and bring their artistry together with an audible joy for the work. 

I listened to this album a lot when it was first released and I've recently found cause to go back and listen again. It's been a refreshing and fortifying revisit and I am happy that I am still moved to smile by this music. This is a guitar players album with a little something for everyone. Taste, technique, tact, and attack, the John's did it right with their album Places Between.

This album covers a lot of ground musically speaking but sometimes I feel that adapting music traditional to one genre or musical setting to fit your particular group doesn't leave room for a lot of longevity. In this vein, the duo bravely refashions Billie Holiday and Agustin Barrios Mangore. Their arrangements are of course elegant and musically executed, but for my taste the most successful pieces on the album are the ones thats were composed with the duo in mind. One example of this is John Etheridge's own Places Between. This duo is remarkable for many reasons, one of which is that they are a collision of genre titles. As such, I believe that the music which best advocates for their sound is the music which was created specifically for them.

Places Between is a lovely waltz with a floating melody that sounds like it was composed for earbud headphones and a spring walk. When the album was released six years ago I was one of those people who was never seen without my ipod. Take a walk with this album, you'll like it – trust me. John Etheridge has a exceptional ability to play just behind the beat and I love the sound of his attack points. He paints his melodies with a cut that makes me feel the strings on my fingers. 

In my brief research for this short article I was happy to find that the duo still concertizes. Their 2012 tour schedule is available here but is thus far limited to only international engagements. Check out the album if you like Places Between and then don't hold back, each of their solo catalouge is worth your time and attention.