American Record Guide, July/August 1992

Record Review:  Benjamin Verdery, Some Towns and Cities

      Verdery:  Some Towns and Cities:  Capitola, California; Miami, Florida; Seattle, Washington; Sylacauga, Alabama; Chicago, Illinoise; Camden, Maine; Tucson, Arizona; Dennis, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island; San Francisco, California; Los Angeles , California; Keanae, Hawaii; New York, New York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mobile, Alabama.

     Benjamin Verdery, guitar; with John Williams, Paco Peña, Leo Kottke, Frederic Hand, Rhythm Exchange, Vicki Bodner, Christopher Lewis, Creig Peyton, Harvie Swartz, Keith Underwood, Glen Velez, and Rie Schmidt [Newport 85519 -- 53 minutes].

      Verdery's latest, a guitar cycle founded on impressions of favorite American cities has a who's who of stellar guitarists.  Peña shines brightest, Williams is mis-cast, and Leo Kottke lets loose with some bluesy slides.  Perhaps the most interesting piece is San Francisco, CA, scored for harp guitar, a 19th Century parlor instrument with many diapasons (unfretted bass strings for added resonance, as in a baroque lute).  Verdery understands this instrument well, and brings out its full piano-like depth and antiquated beauty.  Very cool (it's Californian, after all).  Verdery plays better here than on his last disc, Ride the Wind Horse (Newport 85509).  A spirit and intimacy come through in his own compositions that before was missing.  Still, Verdery is not the most compelling performer.  He's solid but lacking chic, just like his compositions, which are new-age gift-wrapping:  tonal, under-developed, and improvisatory (Brouwer does it better).  Bottom line -- charming. -- Ellis

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