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Guitarist Terrence Farrell displays courage

Coast Weekly, Monterey County, California

By Scott MacClelland

Guts. String instruments need them. String players require more. The solo musician must have enough to spill some as an expected dimension of every performance. But it's the classical guitarist who needs the most. Why? Because after the above demands have been conquered, the guitarist then must seek a following from comparatively few aficionados, and even fewer rabid enthusiasts.

On a quest to ferret out these specializing music lovers, Terrence Farrell has taken his guitar all over the world. While at home, he has built up an impressive CD catalog of work distributed through his own record label, Troubadour Recordings. These CDs have proved valuable "business cards" in opening new performance opportunities for Farrell and have gone far in developing a following of happy fans. But one thing they haven't revealed is Farrell as a passionate artist, a bold, damn-the-torpedoes, risk-taker.

Until now, that is. For the past several months, between playing on shipboard cruises, long concert tours and contracted entertainment at Monterey Peninsula watering holes, Farrell has sequestered himself at his San Benancio recording studio to distill decades of musical impressions into a collection of 14 original solo compositions, just released under the title Travels with my Spanish Guitar. While it will come as no surprise that Farrell's many local friends have already been snapping up the CD at Do Re Mi Music, a wider audience is now becoming interested.

That's probably because this is his best CD to date, a gutsy plunge into an expressive intensity that rolls over any niggling technical questions. Farrell with attitude? Anyone who knows the man personally will recognize him instantly from this CD. Anyone who knows his music will know immediately he has chosen to put his strongest foot forward. While it's difficult for any classical/Spanish guitarist to avoid comparison with the few technical geniuses who get the big recording contracts and commensurate exposure, opting for brimstone in the personality department is one way around the problem.

Going for a wide range of styles also makes sense. Original as these pieces are, their influences are easy to spot. Flamenco flavors several of them. There are tangos, sambas, habaneras, blues. Want ritualistic? "Cleopatra's Dance" echoes "Carmina Burana" and puts other primitivisms over a pedal point. Want tenderness? Try "The Caress" and "De mi Corazón." Does tuneful resignation meet your need? You'll want "Leaving the Islands." You can add that one to my own favorites, including "Farrell's Jig", "Shaken not Stirred," and "Travelin' in Circles Blues" in which Farrell mixes phrases where seemingly left over bits just disappear. (If this isn't an evolution in the form, it is certainly unique.)

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