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Mark Kleinhaut and Neil Lamb

by Jeff Nania on October 16, 2013



The catchiest tune on Mark Kleinhaut and Neil Lamb’s new duo guitar album is easily “Trickster.” Its short start-stop intro leads into a melody that chugs along on a dancing minor groove, which gives Lamb and Kleinhaut space to work as not only great soloists but great accompanists. 

In fact, that is what this album, Jones Street, and other guitar duos and trios can accomplish at their best: a delicate balance between soloing, comping and vibing together. For these two, the interplay is automatic. Seven out of 10 tracks on the album were written in a spontaneous session conducted in Savannah, Ga. The meeting was really a joyous conversation between two good friends, and that is exactly what comes through in the music. “Bull St. Scramble,” “City Market,” “Guitar Bar,” and “Street Fair” all depict the feel of particular places in Savannah as distilled through the two-guitar-13-string matrix. The extra string comes from Lamb’s seven-string Benedetto, which is essentially the same guitar played by the great Bucky Pizzarelli. The additional string gives the guitar a little more of a bottom end, which is especially powerful in a duo setting.

“Guitar Bar” exudes the feel of a small wine bar or other hip, upscale venue where two guitarists may be on display. This tune is also one of the best examples of these two finishing each other’s phrases like two old friends recalling memories. A note-for-note transcription of the entire album was done by a classical guitarist out of Chicago named Jack Cimo, and is available through Kleinhaut’s website. Kleinhaut is literally inviting listeners to take a look and see exactly what is going on in his and Lamb’s sparring session.

The idea of a guitar duo is no new thing, what with countless “hot clubs” and the like, but this is a first for Kleinhaut, who is taking a break from his usual guitar-bass-drums setup, and it seems to be working just fine for him.