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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

Bob Aves

By Bruce Miller
Published March 16, 2006

Translating the Gongs
Taomusic 015

At least the concept is interesting. Aves, an undeniable guitar virtuoso and, somewhat more regrettably, fuzak pioneer, has returned to his Manguindanao roots in the southern Philippines, where he’s taken the region’s traditional gong music and, er, “translated” it for the western ear. With Aves on octavina guitar and horn soloists coming off way more David Sanborn than any real jazz blowers – Sidney Bechet and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, just to name two of a zillion, come to mind – Translating the Gongs undoubtedly makes some sort of connection between cultures, but to what end? Aves can shred with the best of ‘em. He’s got the chops of John McLaughlin and the ingrained ability to sail through odd rhythmic shifts and quirky melodies of someone out of a Zappa cover band. But where’s the soul? This is hardly the traditional music of the Philippines, and it sure as hell ain’t jazz.