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Music Review: Paul Meyers – World on a String

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Guitarist Paul Meyers cruises gracefully between jazz and Brazilian music with World on a String, his aptly-titled new release on Miles High Records.

Meyers has shared the bandstand with greats like Kenny Barron, Jon Hendricks, Andy Bey, and Mel Lewis while keeping a steady iron in the fire for Brazilian music and all of the creative jubilation that comes with it. His desire for a broader spectrum shows in every velvety-smooth note he plays, infusing the music with a sense of the world around him.

All gliding fingers and sparkling self-awareness, Meyers is an impeccably talented guitarist with compelling solos and contemporary playing.

World on a String works through nine easy songs of straightforward jazz and Brazilian flair. With the services of saxophonist Donny McCaslin of the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Brazilian pianist Helio Alves, bassist Leo Traversa, and drummer Vanderlei Pereira of Sabor Brasil, Meyers’ group is ready to rumble.

Perhaps the most immediately striking thing about World on a String is just how secure it all feels. Meyers is an incredibly comfortable (and comforting) musician. His skill in flipping effortlessly from 4/4 swing to samba is amazing, as is his casual flair for bebop in the midst of a hip bossa nova.

The record opens with “I’ve Got the World on a String,” a beautifully and artfully arranged song of vigorous grain and splendour. The pacing and use of percussion, especially the presence of slender Afro-Cuban rhythm, is exceptional.

“Stars” coasts with a loose baiao rhythm and nice turn from McCaslin on flute. The mood shifts and trade-offs between McCaslin, Alves, and Meyers are invigorating, with light peppers of instrumentation building to a vibrant crescendo of sound and power.

Previously recorded by Gary Burton, “Panama” is a catchy Meyers arrangement that builds with marimba and his guitar synth pickup. McCaslin’s sax adds delectable spice.

World on a String is a dynamic, comfortable, beautiful record filled with neat interplay and sparkling touches of world music. Meyers’ ability to concoct a textured blend of varying rhythms and sounds is incredibly effective and his love for the ultimate alchemy of music found here is apparent with every energetic glide across the strings.

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