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Album Review

LESTER QUITZAU
The Same Light

I am always amazed at people who do not like gifts of music because, hey, music is one of the best things in the world and when it's free, what's not to like. So when my friend Terry Currier at Portland, Oregon's Music Millennium handed me a copy of Lester Quitzau's The Same Light and I flinched, I was surprised. Me, the guy who eats and sleeps music, flinching at free music? Maybe in an alternate universe. I graciously accepted it and a few other CDs and tucked them under my arm, but the visit was fast and furious and I left without hearing what Terry said about the album, something I was to regret. I do remember he said I'd like it and he is seldom wrong, but Terry is a bit like myself in that he likes most everything, so as far as I knew Quitzau was another of the myriad of blues guitarists or singer/songwriters struggling to be heard but not necessarily within my wavelength. I took it home and stacked it with the others on the corner of the desk and forgot about it for a few weeks. Make that a few months. Oh, I listened. I just didn't listen seriously.

Well, I'm listening seriously now and what I'm hearing is damn impressive. There is a calm to Quitzau which takes me back to the early days of solo Eric Clapton and the softer sounds of Mick Taylor, both with a side of mellow. No doubt, Quitzau could amp out some crankin' rock 'n' roll. The guitar is like an extension of his arm, he plays it so well. But that is not his purpose and, just a guess, not his style. Lester Quitzau, unless I miss my guess, is about peace and love and, yes, you can laugh if you want, but he is no caricature. He believes. You can hear it and even feel it in his music.

His music. It is definitely his music--- even the somber To My Old Brown Earth, written by Pete Seeger and presented here as a hymn to--- what? Nature? God? It could be either or both. Listening to Quitzau sing, his phrasing delicate and in places tentative, gives one a sense of Nature as Person. This kind of love is what the spiritual feel toward Mother Earth. This kind of love is why we call it Mother Earth in the first place.

Ferris Wheel is a delight of steel pan and acoustic guitar. No, it is not island music. It is beautiful music, the guitars (acoustic and electric) trading melody with the steel pan drum in just the right amounts. Laid back, soft, the song is a soft breeze on a sunny afternoon.

Wurlitzer piano and superbly arranged brass push The Only Cure to the heights. I mean, is there anything more beautiful than a perfectly played Wurlitzer in a ballad? Not when it's done right. And that brass--- this is background brass, organ-like in depth and a perfect backdrop for some exquisite electric blues licks from Quitzau. That's right, this is blues, my friends, and not just blues but blues from the heart and soul. This could easily have been Clapton at his peak, but it is old Lester, giving us a bone.

Quitzau throws in a funk-jam piece to lighten things up a bit, Shape Shifter riding on the rhythm train. At just over six minutes, it could go on forever as far as I'm concerned, the hammond organ and various guitars trading licks when not creating a chorus of instrumental jazz fusion. Very impressive indeed.

There is more, but going over every track would sound a bit redundant. They are all good and some downright excellent, Quitsau and co-producer and fellow musician Jody Baker pulling out all the stops. They have an ear, these two, and their choices (both in songs and in the studio) are solid.

Lester Quitzau lists four other CDs on the jacket and I can only guess as to why I haven't heard of him. He lives in the wilds of the Canadian Pacific Northwest, grows and eats organic food and plays music. Many might say that he looks like the typical hippie and that might be true, depending upon one's definition. When I was young, I thought that might be a route for myself as well, but life got in the way and I lost my virginity to the military-industrial complex and never looked back. Maybe that's why I get what Quitzau's doing. I sure hear what he's doing and let me tell you, it's worth a trip to his website to check him out. If you like it half as much as do I, you'll end up a fan, too. That's Quitzau (kwit-saw)-comma-Lester. Acoustic & Electric. Soulful, Folk, Blues & Roots Music. I dig it.

Also available at Amazon.com, along with a string of other of Lester's fine albums.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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