Born: July 29, 1952 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Last Updated: May 7, 2013
Charley studied privately with Jazz notables Joe Monk and Harry Leahy. At Stony Brook, he focused on composition, studied with Peter Winkler and Richard Dyer-Bennet and then spent a year at Berklee College of Music. After college he played the club scene in NYC, performed for impresario Sid Bernstein, studied classical guitar with Jerry Willard and took a fascinating lesson with Ralph Towner.
Charley has played with many bands and done solo gigs such as opening up the first 20th Century Classic American Guitar Show on Long Island. He spent several years prior to this new CD performing and recording with the Long Island group, Sun, Moon and Stars.
A unique guitarist/composer
Charley Rich’s new CD, “By Myself” is, as Frank Zappa used
to refer to himself, by “a composer who plays the guitar.”
Zappa was a distinctive guitarist, and so is Charley. At
times you can hear echoes of Joe Pass, John Mclaughlin,
Jerry Garcia and Ralph Towner, to name but a few of
Charley’s sonic influences, and yet, you always know it’s
Charley, from the first note. When a composer plays all the
instruments as Charley does here, you get a real window into
the mind and ear of the composer.
Charley is a poignant melodist, something you rarely hear in
modern music. His guitar playing is intimate, and he often
favors back phrasing, bent notes, slides, and a variety of
interesting timbres and touches. His electronic arrangements
are like an aural version of an impressionist painting, with
a jazz beat blended in.
Some of the tracks included are:
‘Wondering”- a swing tune with polytonal riffs.
“Time Again” – Cool congas, tympani and bass behind
Charley’s haunting lead lines.
“River Falls” – Feels like an early Paul Simon folk
“Mythology” – Crazy horns slip sliding and swinging with
Freddie Greene/Basie-like comping. A great contemporary
bebop tune. Reminds us of Weather Report and late Miles
Davis. And here, Charley on one guitar trades fours with
Charley on another.
“Friend”- twin Allmann Brothers-like guitars over a Bossa
“If The Sun Don’t Shine, The Squirrels Don’t Dance.” – A
pretty theme moving into some fun funk.
Disoholirag- A rag based groove with a melody that would
make a great French movie theme.
One can imagine these electronic orchestrations played by a
real orchestra, and that might be an interesting idea for
Charley to pursue in the future.
This would be a good CD to have in your ears when you’re
hiking in the back woods. Kind of like nature with a groove.
Meditative, but with lots of movement.
Jonathan L. Segal
Sublime Guitar Tone
Ok, Basically there are two kinds of guitar instrumentals
these days. The kind guitarists listen to and the kind the
kind regular folks listen to. The guitarists type is usually
riff based as opposed to compositional and a lot of noodling
which for most folks is basically unlistenable. The regular
folks type of guitar music is usually smooth Jazz or maybe a
Spa type ambient, again riff based but more accessible.
Charlie's music is a little of both, but with a very strong
compositional approach using carefully developed melodies
and swirling harmonies that create a kind of surreal tonal
palette from which he weaves in and out of.
For us guitar players he has command of a clean guitar sound
that is in your face but still very warm. There is a purity
in his tone that comes from a technique few electric players
possess, that is the ability to set the string in motion
without actually striking the string but gently pressing and
releasing it. Concert level Classical Guitar players use
this technique on Nylon string instruments.
One of Charlie's most accessible songs is the first tune
titled Disholirag, it is kind of a 21st century acoustic
country style rag with a few twist and turns, a little jazzy
at times. A simple rememberable melody and a nice relaxed
groove. If you purchase this one I guarantee you will want
the whole album.
Charley Rich, By Myself (cdbaby, December 2012)
4. Once a Long Time Ago
7. Feathers and Pearls
8. Time Again
11. If the Sun Don't Shine, the Squirrels Don't Dance
Sun, Moon and Stars, Different Beat (cdbaby, 2009)
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