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Jason Becker | Boy Meets Guitar

by Alissa Ordabai
– Senior Columnist —

Jason Becker 2012 has been an eventful year for Jason Becker. A documentary film about him is premiering all over the world, Carvin’s custom shop has just released a tribute Jason Becker guitar, and now he has a new album out which is a collection of his early demos previously unheard by the general public. Since the onset of ALS – the illness which deprived Becker of movement just when his career was about to take off in a big way – he has nonetheless been putting out brilliant, inspiring music, using eye movement and music software to write it. The new album, however, is telling a different story – that of Becker’s early years as a novice musician, all tracks on it recorded when he was aged between 15 and 17.

“Novice”, of course, is a strange word to use in this case. On the one hand Becker is astonishingly young, but it beggars belief how accomplished his chops are and how highly developed is his musical sensibility. Two cuts are pieces written by Villa Lobos and Paganini, but the rest of the material are all originals. And it is bewildering to hear how fluently a teenager can incorporate Baroque and classical compositional devices into his own music – the mathematical relationships, rules of counterpoint, and the dialogue between the melody and bass notes, while also having a natural – seemingly innate – feel for hard rock and blues.

At times Becker can’t resist from showing off his formidable technique just for the sheer fun of it, but even when he chooses to play super-fast, the chops almost always serve to convey emotion. The main purpose of having a virtuoso technique has been understood by Becker from the very start – not as a means to assert himself, but as a liberating skill which allows a musician to express fully who he is.

And the best thing about this album is exactly that – who Jason Becker is. His racing chops, his feel for the nuances and the dynamics, his intuitive technical versatility, and his emotional intelligence would have been enough for any aspiring musician to start making a name for himself. But all these qualities are still peripheral to where it’s really at with him: his prodigious talent for improvisation, his rich – seemingly limitless – imagination, and that special gift of a composer who can take you outside of everyday realities and beyond distinctions between genres.

But despite the spell-binding visions Becker’s music gives you, each track on this release conveys something human, and this is how he connects with you from the word go. The high tech chops never obscure his inner realities, but help Becker relay them with more poignancy. Melody, taste, meaning, true feeling, and individuality are all above and beyond the technique for him. At privileged moments guitar doesn’t feel like an intermediary between the musician and what he plays, but disappears, melts into the music, to leave Becker one-on-one with the ultimate source.

“I didn’t want to just be a great player for my age,” Jason Becker was saying to Matt Blackett in his recent interview in Guitar Player magazine. “I wanted to be become one of the best players, musicians, and composers ever.” Once you hear this release, you know that you are dealing with exactly that – not just another child prodigy (there were plenty of those at the time), but someone who defied all limitations – be it technical or non-physical – to arrive at complete inner freedom to join that small league of those who, to quote Picasso, are “washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Genre: baroque, classical, art music, rock, blues, funk, experimental

Track Listing:
1. Betcha Can’t Play This! (17 yrs. old)
2. Prelude no. 1 (Villa Lobos) (15 yrs. old)
3. Astral Voyage (16 yrs. old)
4. Vision in the Clouds (15 yrs. old)
5. Violent Skies (16 yrs. old)
6. Moe, Larry & Carlton, Vol. 1 (16 yrs. old)
7. Moe, Larry & Carlton, Vol 2 (16 yrs. old)
8. Remember (15 yrs. old)
9. Nate, You Funky Mofo! (feat. N8 Fox) (16 yrs. old)
10. Paganini’s 24th Caprice (16 yrs. old)

Label: Jason Becker Music


Hardrock Haven rating: 10/10


8 Comments on Jason Becker | Boy Meets Guitar

  1. Frankie B. // February 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm //

    amazing record, is so inspiring to hear Jason at his 15, 16 and 17’s because at that early age he already was a huge composer with cool ideas!
    Man Power you are such an asshole shut up please because u dont know what to say, if u dont like it is your problem, that generation of guitar players was probably the best generation ever, in my opinion and in the opinion of A LOT OF PERSONS JASON IS THE BEST GUITAR PLAYER EVER!!! and if u dont like shut up and go doing something better like listening something that u really like.

  2. Jason superb!

  3. This man does not even know who is the same, talk and comment about jason free to review that occurs in these days, when you come back from your life and there just are blessed if you can feel the frequency that feels and jason creates his music, he has been the inspiration for years of the greatest guitarists and musicians in the world, his life is an example for humanity, why people love him. good for now you’re just what critics and still thinking that music is a competition to see if you win something in your life ….

  4. Why comment on this if you only have negativity to express “Man Power” (afraid to use your real name right?)

    Don’t know exacly what lies beneath that, frustration because of lack of talent might be a possibility though ;), but in any case does this say everything about you and nothing about the talent Jason had as a player and and still has as an artist, a composer and above all as a human being!

    Live with that fact and the fact that Jason deserves the deepest respect possible only…

  5. You can have your opinion Man Power, and everyone will respect … with a sadness for being this. Jason is a rare jewel of music, not only for his incredible technique on the guitar, who thinks so, does not know Jason Becker. He can be a musician who puts every fiber of his heart in every note. He is technical, but he is human. The Jason’s music breathes, is alive. It touches you. I can not say that about many people, and frankly, I could never find anything like what the music of Jason gave me.
    Jason, you are AMAZING!

  6. Well am the only one who commented! Or maybe nobody cares about this record? hmm

  7. Thanks Man Power. It’s your opinion that matters above all….Get over yourself! If the author of the review thinks Becker’s the greatest, then he is, as far as the reviewer goes. He expressed an opinion. The only idiot in the room is you for believing your opinion is more important than anyone else’s. Music isn’t a competition.

  8. Boring.. this guy is good indeed but I would say this is his weakest release… and please stop saying the greatest etc.. maybe in a generation full of idiots he was the best, but the best of all times? please..

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