The unfortunate thing is that many recordings, especially guitar-based ones, have not broken new ground in recent years. While we can often count on the masters (old and new) to satisfy our cravings for a solid guitar-led recording, the diminishing number of newcomers to try and break out and make a statement with original compositions has been fewer than desired. Enter E. Shawn Qauissaunee. The thirty-something Delaware based guitarist has proven that the light of progress still exists, and that paying homage to our biggest influences doesn't necessarily mean imitating them. With strong undertones of Metheny, Martino, Jim Hall and a touch of Benson, Shawn Q's "Painting Pictures" is an incredibly solid record of originals, led by Shawn Q and featuring an ensemble of exceptionally talented players behind him.
Shawn possesses a Metheny-like consciousness in orchestrating his compositions, and although it's not a full out blowing session, each and every member gets to really display their improvisational abilities within a carefully crafted framework of moods; from the up-tempo swing thing to paced ballads, and some really left-of-center progressions ("Abstraction") which display a whole spectrum of moods and styles. However, this is a guitar-based recording, and the simple fact Shawn's playing is OUTRAGEOUS. His lines move in and out of the chord structures like liquid, and his tone is warm and dark, somewhere between Martino and Bobby Broome, but his strength is his melodic consciousness; each line really 'sings', and you can tell he's not just burning scales.
Painting Pictures, however, is the result of several talented musicians: The rhythm team of bassist Chico Huff and drummer Tom Palmer is exceptional; keyboardist Jeff Knoettner's playing is textural and complimentary to the other parts; man on the sax Eric Powell really soars over the tunes, and his style integrates well with Shawn Q's. I haven't heard this many strong players on one recording in a while.
Plain and simple, E. Shawn Qauissaunee emerges as a new voice, not just as a guitarist, but as a gifted composer with a knack for creating powerful contemporary music. I suggest you learn more about him and his whereabouts at his website, www.esqmusic.com.
Make sure to also check out the predecessor to Painting Pictures, "Tell A Story"...while it's a more traditionally rooted affair, it's no less impressive.