Sunday, December 06, 2009

Jack Rose R.I.P.

The news about the death of Jack Rose is still so surreal to me that I am not really sure what to write about all this. We will miss a remarkable musician but most of all a warm and caring friend. Rest in piece, Jack.

Here's a text I used in an intro to a Jack Rose interview back in 2003.

Ever since I had that frightening yet beautiful dream, seemingly generated from listening to Pelt’s Empty Bell Ringing in the Sky a few times too many my heart seems to belong to whatever sonic territory this American east coast trio chooses to tread. I’ve always felt that they somehow are capable of displaying things on the other side, haunting things that we’re too busy to see and maybe are too afraid to confront. I am in lifelong debt to Mike Gangloff, Patrick Best and Jack Rose for providing that view, and as if all this wasn’t enough Rose has together with a handful of other contemporary folk guitarists also brought back my faith in modern, skeletal guitar beauty along the lines of the legendary Takoma Records. But although his solo music indeed does recall Fahey and Basho in terms of crystal clear acoustic guitar genius and that he often revisits the chord progressions of delta blues and Appalachian folk, his expression is still very much one of a kind. The first widely available (I realize that I use that term loosely here) testament of all this was his Red Horse, White Mule LP on Eclipse that includes the music of shadows that stretch and creep across your sun-drenched front porch on a particularly hot summer day. Listen carefully and you’ll see how the album flows and ebbs in terms of mood and intensity, and before you know it you’ll find the front yard all covered in brilliantly colored fallen leaves in all shades of red, yellow and orange. Maybe I am just dreaming things up but as the album is over I can actually see footsteps in a light blanket of snow on the ground right in front of me. I guess what I am trying to say is that this completely gorgeous acoustic guitar performance recalls a walk through the cycle of the seasons. But although the whole thing strikes me as very visual I have a feeling that Rose is not really trying to paint an aural image reminiscent of a particular landscape, rather trying to express his inner feelings, foggy daydreams and wistful memories. The results reverberate with a kind of somber, distant contemplation that initially might strike you as dark and brooding but on repeated listens will reveal an unrivalled kind of beauty and calm. And the follow-up album Opium Musick on the very same Arizona label is just as remarkable with its brilliantly organic tone. It’s a heartfelt voyage that Jack Rose takes us on, and we’re honored to have a chance to talk to him...