About the artist: Bruce Mathiske brings you stringed excellence. Fiery fretwork of solo guitar orchestra playing bass, rhythm and melody at once, encompassing a huge range of genres from swing to Latin, jazz to African, folk to flamenco, gypsy to ambient simultaneously playing didgeridoo. This will send you spellbound on a journey with infectious rhythms from far flung corners of his guitar and fiddle.
CD Review by Tony Smith
As the notes on this 2005 album say, Bruce Mathiske is joined here by a long list of ‘friends’.
Mathiske plays guitar, didgeridoo and sings, Graham Mathiske contributes congas and percussion, Trevor Bonney sings, Mitch Cairns plays bass, and Guy De Ville adds percussion.
Mathiske composes and arranges 11 of the 18 tracks. Of the remainder, J.S. Bach and Duke Ellington are outstanding names among the composers.
Mathiske says that ‘live music to me is by far the best’ and this album demonstrates his comfort in the role, playing in front of audiences rather than recording in a studio. With over 15 albums to his credit, Mathiske knows what he is talking about.
He has been hailed as a guitar virtuoso because of his outstanding mastery of the instrument.
Mathiske has chosen the touring tracks well to demonstrate the range and depth of his guitar work.
There are jazz standards like ‘Can I Change My Mind’ by Barry Despenza and Carl Wolfolk, ‘Georgia’ by Hoagy Carmichael, ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ by Duke Ellington and ‘Tuxedo Junction’ by Erskine Hawkins. ‘Manha De Carnaval’ by Brazilian guitarist, Luiz Bonfa, a collaborator of Don Burrows and George Golla brings Mathiske’s artistry into the ‘world music’ category, where he meets ‘African Marketplace’ by Abdullah Ibrahim. Listeners should enjoy Bach’s ‘Toccata’.
Mathiske’s version loses nothing to that of Sky, headed by classical guitar virtuoso, John Williams, who popularised Toccata and Fugue decades ago. The driving percussion on this track gives the impression that it is influenced by Australian surfing music of the 1960s.
The other very Australian sounding track is ‘Toward Horizons’ which evokes the sense of the huge distances and flat roads across this continent.
Other Mathiske originals include, ‘Swing Like Flynn’, ‘Dance of the Gypsy’, ‘Pulling My Own Strings’, ‘A Splash of Spanish’ and ‘Still Got My Guitar’. When so much depends on Mathiske’s guitar to carry melody and harmony, the backing percussion is vital.
The various rhythms here, from easy paced jazz to African beats and Gypsy and Flamenco styles, are provided capably by his friends.
Mathiske has a great sense of how the guitar can be used to its maximum potential.
In Ireland, people are steeped in music and can appreciate great performers. To be well received by audiences there is a sure stamp of approval.
Bruce Mathiske’s, Live in Ireland with Friends, shows that he is not limited by Australia’s relatively small market but that his standards are universally high.