Personnel: Eugene Chadbourne (guitar); Henry Kaiser (guitar).
Recording information: Fait Studio, Oakland, CA (1997-1998).
Photographer: Fran‡ois Bienvenue.
Eugene Chadbourne on the left, Henry Kaiser on the right, both playing acoustic guitars and trying to find a ground for their styles to meet. Well, they found it. The Guitar Lesson feels relaxed, intimate, like two old friends playing on the porch with a beer within hand reach. Of course, in this case the friends in question happen to be two of the best avant-garde guitarists. There are two short electric guitar duets, "Number Four" and "Number Twenty-Two Is," but they merely create pauses. The interesting music is in the acoustic duets, first and foremost in the opening improv "Rothko Lumberjack." In the middle of "One That All Plectrum Guitar Players Can Relate to the Ending Of," Kaiser suddenly stops playing; Chadbourne continues for a while but soon both start shaking their guitars around, letting their lost plectrums dance within the instrument. The highlight of this very generous album (78 minutes) is the last piece, "Letter to Derek." In the purest style of Derek Bailey's talking pieces and musical letters, the two guitarists pay tribute to their mentor. For 20 minutes, they play while talking about how they first heard Bailey on record, then met him. At one point they even do a double impression of the free improv luminary. They also discuss a few records and throw stories around. The Guitar Lesson is better than some of Chadbourne's guitar-only albums, such as the 2000 CD Piramida Cu Povesti. Recommended. ~ Fran‡ois Couture