Tolo Marton

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Facing off against some of the hottest Strat slingers from coast to coast, Italy's Tolo Marton provided the "international" content for the 1998 Jimi Hendrix International Guitar Competition. When Jimi's dad, Al Hendrix, mounted the stage to present the Voodoo Chile Award to the best of the night, Tolo Marton took home the prize. I first met him that night, and since then I've always looked forward to his notes asking if he can send me a copy of his latest. I've never been disappointed, but I've never been happier than I am with Dal Vero, a double disc chronicle of Tolo's live performances between July 2001 and August 2002.

As Tolo notes, his studio albums are primarily showcases for his composing skills, and he saves the guitar pyrotechnics for the stage, so this is a particular treat if you like extended guitar improvisations. There are plenty of those original compositions here, along with a set of covers that range from early Yardbirds, Rory Gallagher and Nils Lofgren to, of course, Jimi Hendrix. Those covers include a rendition of his award winning arrangement of "Red House."

As much fun as it is to hear him perform the more familiar material, though, it's the originals, like "Eclipse," "Alpine Valley," and "Let Me Be" that I think show him at his very best. Tolo plays with the passion of a bluesman and the improvisational adventure of a jazzman, and the result is particularly satisfying on his own tunes, which seem to give him more license to experiment.

That's not to say that he can't surprise the listener with a new approach to an old favorite, like his shuffle style version of "All Along The Watchtower" or a funkified "For Your Love." One of the highlights, in fact, is the country music medley that closes the album, where Tolo demonstrates hi consummate skill in yet another genre and brings AP Carter face to face with Enrico Morricone in the process.

Dal Vero is a terrific set of performances by a great performer. If you're unfamiliar with this Italian guitar hero, this is an excellent place to start.

Musicians:

Tolo Marton: guitar, vocals
Max Michieletto: guitar
Maurizio Feraco: bass, backing vocals
Marco Michieletto: guitar, backing vocals
Special Guest: Ian Paice: drums
Tolo Marton


 
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