Out of Print Since 2008 / New Vinyl Transfer Direct from the Original Masters
John Coltrane died at age 40, and in retrospect it seems as if the intensity of activity in his last years, the sheer torrent of notes, was an attempt at purging the music from his soul before it was too late. The guitarist Jack Rose died at 38, in 2009, and listening back to his catalog one has a similar notion. Like Coltrane, Rose's last years were marked by a shimmering intensity, an outpouring of his spirit, onto audiences and records. Jack felt the duty of preservation but was by no means bound by it. With his virtuoso fingerstyle technique and restless guitar explorations - modal epics, bottleneck laments, uptempo rags - it's easy to hear a connection to tradition and at the same time a pulsing modernism.
As the air gets heavy before a thunderstorm, Jack's vivid guitar picking awakes in us a peculiar awareness, something ancient and American. Rose's work exists along the established continuum of American vernacular music: gospel, early jazz, folk, country blues and up through the post-1960s "American primitive" family tree from John Fahey and Robbie Basho and outward to other idiosyncratic American musicians like Albert Ayler, the NoNeck Blues Band, Captain Beefheart and Cecil Taylor. His process can best be heard as an evolution; renditions of songs would transform over time, worked out live, with changes in duration, tempo or attack, in the search for a song's essence.
Jack's self-titled album was originally released in 2006 on the arCHIVE label. It contains a combination of studio and live recordings. Jack Rose is marked by a sense of forward momentum, the result of several years of constant playing, with fresh versions of a number of previously attempted songs. Blind Willie Johnson's spiritual "Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground" is manipulated into a wailing slideguitar lament. "Levee" pops like a warning. "St. Louis Blues" is a good example of Jack's innate sense of swing, a crucial characteristic of his playing perhaps lost on some of his fingerpicking followers. The centerpiece of the album, however, is the nearly sidelong "Spirits in the House," which begins with tentative weeping glissandos, and slowly reveals itself as a stately fingerpicked blues meditation.
Three Lobed's 2016 vinyl reissue of Jack Rose's self-titled album was transferred direct from the original masters and comes housed in a tip-on Stoughton cover (with multi-format download). Part of a program to restore Jack Rose's entire catalog to print in connection with VHF Records and the Rose estate.