Posts by raven

“Bruno’s Revenge” with Stevie Coyle

Posted by on Dec 1, 2011 in Video | 0 comments

“Bruno’s Revenge” with Stevie Coyle

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Video in Media Bar

Posted by on Nov 13, 2011 in Media | 0 comments

Video in Media Bar

Walter Strauss plays Djimbaseh: 2010

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Allgigs (UK)

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – Sometimes you stumble across a musician who defies definition. This can be a good thing, or a very bad thing. Walter Strauss possesses a paradigm of monikers – Walter certainly isn’t ‘rock and roll’ and ‘Strauss’ evokes the image of large ballrooms and sweeping orchestral movements. Thankfully there isn’t much evidence of either, but what you do have with “Planet Solitaire” is a rare breed of world-fusion that actually works. Strauss is a master of the picking-style of guitar-playing favoured by African musicians such as the late Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, plus also jazz-luminaries such as Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie and the totally non-classifiable Vini Reilly – plus he can also sing with a resonating sub-baritone quiver. Bastard. Aside from a respectful and busy reading of Woody Guthrie’s, “The Great Historical Burn” and George Harrison’s, “Within You, Without You”, much of this engaging album is comprised of West African traditional and self-penned innovations.  If you are slavering at the thought of me sticking the boot into another irksome, twee and mawkish ‘world-music’ dribbling from a WOMAD reject – seriously, think again. Walter Strauss kicks global arse and is a serious contender. Intricacy is the name of the game, to start with, and “Djeli”, “Gypsydish” and “Djimbaseh” are perfectly-executed acoustic workouts that may well serve a purpose for wine-tasting sessions in Clapham, but are more suited to kicking back on a sandy enclave in Cornwall, Kent or the Western Isles. Basically, much of Strauss’s work knows no boundaries, yet appeals to anyone with a mind broad enough to enjoy the technical and emotional skill that this man can bang out. When he sings, as on the Woody Guthrie tune, he holds his own, but his real forte is when playing acoustic guitar – the man is a wizard. He’s even learnt the workings of the king of African stringed-instruments, the kora, for the closing track and “Soutoukou”, a cracking piece derived from the renowned icon, Mamadou Diabate. This whole album is so good, I’m genuinely surprised that ECM or RealWorld haven’t licensed this enthralling set of songs. It encompasses Western classical and jazz-values, plus rootsy African and Americana with bewildering aplomb. Hello major-labels, get your cheque-books ready! – Paul...

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Maverick Magazine (UK) – Feature Article

Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Feature Article – Walter Strauss: Multi-Genre Guitarist, Producer and Songwriter It happens all the time. After hearing American string wizard Walter Strauss play guitar and sing, first-timers to his shows invariably turn to each other slack-jawed and wide-eyed, whispering: ‘Why the hell have I never heard of this guy before?’ Good question. But there are good reasons, too. For years now, Walter has been in the copilot seat, as it were, as sideman for various acoustic American and African artists, and as album producer for other people’s projects. But of late, the spotlight has turned onto Walter himself. Fortunately for Maverick readers, he will be touring England, Scotland and Ireland this May, and will have on offer both the full-band PULLING SHADOWS CD and a six-song EP of guitar and voice entitled PLANET SOLITAIRE. Much as his growing legion of fans love the live and recorded work he’s done with Malian kora and kamele ngoni masters Mamadou Diabate and Mamadou Sidibe, American folk trio the Burns Sisters, New York alt before alt was cool rockers the Head Cleaners, his own east-coast quintet Ten Sleep and west-coasters the Walter Strauss Trio. That said, it’s in a solo situation, they say, that they can hear most clearly just what a many-layered, multi-textural, one-man folk festival Walter Strauss really is. And the general consensus seems to be that—as delicious as the melodic and harmonic elements of Walter’s singing and guitar playing are—it’s his rhythmic drive that is absolutely freaking irresistible. “Drums were my first instrument. Well, actually, the very first thing I played was the laundry hamper, with pencils. One brother would play the tennis racket, and the other played an actual guitar. I have a cassette recording of us playing Wipeout when I was six. We were good!” You were born on in Rawlins, Wyoming. Is that right so far? “That’s right,” Walter laughs. “My dad was not a musician himself, but had a great interest in classical music, particularly Bach. And just having that around the house, that was influential, I’m sure. So was his singing. He had a beautiful singing voice, my dad …” “My mother played piano. Lots of German volkslieder. She is a painter, and a painter of the Big West, of the mountains and the vast expanses. I think her art has a similar aesthetic to my music and vice-versa, of course.” You left home to follow your muse at the age of 15? “Yup. And that probably made me look inside in a more reflective way than most teenagers do. I first lived in the basement of a bridal shop that, strangely, never ever had a single customer. A Mafia front? Probably. And then lived by myself out in the countryside, and that was actually a very spiritual time for me. I’d put my stereo speakers out the window over this beautiful valley, and listen to Christopher Parkening play Bach. Such transcendental performances on that record. Each note is perfectly placed, but not just in a technical way. A couple of Jackson Browne records were also on the turntable at that time, which probably influenced my songwriting. And Pink Floyd. I’ve always loved a lot of rock’n’roll.” Tell us a bit more about your musical history. “I started playing guitar when I was eight. By that time I was ready for an instrument that was melodic as well as rhythmic, and I wanted something I could play more by myself. Still, I think I’ve always had that quirky rhythmic sensibility. I played in bands with my brothers Dave and John. Lots of harmony, and finger...

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Northern Sky EMagazine (UK)

Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – Virtuoso guitarist Walter Strauss brings something extraordinary to his guitar playing as he continues to explore World influences such as the West African music of Guinean band Ba Sissoko, Malian kamal’ngoni player Mamadou Sidibe and fellow Malian, the kora player Mamadou Diabate. Transferring these complex pieces onto just six strings is no mean feat; the results are astonishing. Having spent many years honing his craft as a sideman and session player, working alongside such artists as Vassar Clements, Martin Simpson, Corinne West and Alex de Grassi, Strauss embarked on his solo career with PULLING SHADOWS (2005), which demonstrated the work of a distinctively original guitar player. If the first album leant towards jazz, incorporating the assistance of several musicians from around the world, this second and very much solo release certainly owes more to a healthy World influence with a rich tapestry of diverse sounds. Strauss explores the fret board with an ardent acquisitive curiosity. If the instrumentals hint at the places the guitar has never before ventured, the songs also have a curious innovation about them, exploring uncommon time signatures and ambitious subjects. The Salamander for instance, views the world through the eyes of a woodland amphibian. Ishi tells of the last surviving member of the Native American Yana people, who survived forty-years hiding in the foothills of Mount Lassen in California before reluctantly integrating himself into modern society. Such songs have a curious appeal. Along with several traditional West African pieces such as Djeli, Soutoukou and Djimbaseh, Strauss also includes something closer to home, selecting a handful of verses from a sprawling Woody Guthrie song The Great Historical Bum as well as paying homage to one of the most notable British musicians to embrace World Music very early on, George Harrison, with a spirited instrumental version of the Sgt Pepper classic Within You, Without You, which captures the beauty of the actual melody of the song, which we suspect was probably overlooked in 1967. – Allan...

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