View from Here

Artie Traum • Shanachie • Feb 1996

As the tendency in contempoland is for an artist to stick with an identifiable angle and milk it throughout a long career, it's gratifying to uncover the diverse likes of Artie Traum. On his colorful travelogue The View From Here, the guitarist winds down divergent yet concurrent roads, darting in all sorts of innovative directions with the nylon and steel string guitars, often on the same cut. Unlike his peers who play it safe with simple, straightforward melodies and little invention, Traum uses many of the tunes as springboards of breezy improvisation, taking on world beat challenges ranging from American soul to Latin to Brazilian. Crisp and precise though his playing is, Traum also enjoys his production duties, texturing around his strings a wide array of ideas beyond the usual sax -- most notably, powerful piano solos (check out Diego Spirtaleri on the wild "Horses") and flute spins. Dean Sharp's exotic percussion rivals George Jinda's in terms of scope and breadth, most notably on the hypnotic trio piece, "Dark Passage." Traum's only apparent flaw is an overuse of vocals; "Allora Si" with Michael Franks is lush and romantic, but a political stance on the Amazon comes across as contrived. Hopefully it won't distract anyone from this highly rewarding sojourn. - Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide