Bob Margolis

Silogram Music, 2003

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Ronnie Montrose -- a guy who knows a little bit about trying to make a living playing instrumental guitar music -- once told me he admires anybody with the guts and talent to take a shot at it. Add to Ronnie's theoretical list of admired musicians one Bob Margolis of Maryland, a talented guitarist who self-publishes instrumental discs in between playing sessions and teaching.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Impetus, Margolis' third self-released disc, finds him exploring a variety of textures and tones on both electric and acoustic. Of the ten tracks on display here, eight are Margolis's own compositions, and they're strong ones, the kind of smooth instrumental jazz-rock that inspires the listener to imagine a story to go with them.

On the electric tracks, Margolis proves his chops without ever being showy. Cuts like "Impetus" and "Convergence" are about feel and melody more than power, despite their essential drive. "Rub It In" might be the one place where Margolis struts a little, laying a stinging solo over a blues beat.

The acoustic tracks are equally strong. "Kinship" is mellow and thoughtful, "Philosophical" starts slow but has a nice build from a simple melody into an engaging electric-acoustic duet, and "Two-fo-pa" has Margolis picking sweet high notes off the top of a rumbling jazz-funk bass line. In a classy move, Margolis closes with a very pretty solo acoustic rendering of Gershwin's classic "Summertime."

And now, for Margolis's one minor misstep. You've gotta admire the guts of any undiscovered guitarist who takes on Jeff Beck's legendary "Freeway Jam"; it's kind of like a club-circuit rock band cutting a remake of "Stairway To Heaven." Margolis gives it a spirited try -- he obviously loves the song -- but it's just too big a mountain to climb if your listener is familiar with Beck's explosive original.

Maybe the highest compliment I can pay Bob Margolis is that this album reminds me a lot of Larry Carlton. Like Carlton's work, Impetus is full of elegant, tasteful guitar lines and an understated power, while also serving as a celebration of the pure joy of playing. That's nice company to be in.

For more information on Bob Margolis, see his Web site at

Rating: B+

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