"Transcendence" CD - Trevor Stewart
review by Greg Howard
sample track: "Never Alone"
Trevor Stewart is one of a growing number of Stick stylists who are using the Stick's sound and arranging capabilities to create a distinctive and deeply personal musical voice and artistic image. This third CD by the Kansas-based Stick soloist starts off with deep, lush reverberating Stick chords and a sweet uplifting melody. You might be lulled into thinking this was going to be a nice quiet "meditative" listen. But after only a few seconds the energy starts to climb, as his fingers "stretch out" on the Grand Stick fretboard and various overdubbed ensemble instruments make their entrance, including Trevor's masterful viola and hand percussion.
Most of the pieces are original compositions that expand from simple melodic themes to multi-string orchestrations. There are also some truly innovative interpretations of familiar tunes like "Amazing Grace" and Ravel's "Bolero." All of the tracks have memorable phrases that become ever more resonant upon repeated listening.
Trevor's ACTV-2™ equipped Stick sounds like two or three guitars all at once, his left hand rolling through the chord changes like a fingerpicked steel-string acoustic guitar accompanist, and his right hand melody sounding more like classical guitar soloist. He also adds some supportive synth pads and strings via his MIDI pickup. The originals, "Flight" and "Never Alone", are hauntingly beautiful and there's a subtlety about his use of energy and drive that's compelling without overpowering the delicate nature of this composition. Of particular note is his use of intensive, interwoven two-handed parts, what Emmett likes to call "fingersticking" — very gripping and dynamic. Still, amid all this energy, Stewart provides a pervading sense of space, for notes to ring out sweetly, and reverberations to carry you off into the distance.
"Inspiration, exaltation and adventure all in one — enjoyable listening!"