Living Blues Magazine Reviews Robb
Just in time for the holidays, the December issue of Living Blues Magazine has arrived to sing Terry's praises. Below is the full, glowing review of Cool on the Bloom from critic Frank Matheis.
December 2016 / January 2017 issue #246, pp. 55, 56
Terry Robb, Cool on the Bloom
"The Portland, Oregon-based guitarist Terry Robb graces us with an acoustic album Cool on the Bloom with the sparsest liner note, a one-line poem, "So glad I was wrong - I was chained to a foolish thought."
If Robb set out to prove that he is one of the finest acoustic guitarists on the international scene, blues or not, he probably succeeded. Finger gawkers flood to his shows and many a budding guitarist will love Cool on the Bloom for the unbridled transcendent fretboard mastery. Unquestionably, Robb ranks right up there with the heavy hitters, a player of dazzling skill and technique. He could go to any guitar festival and show them a few chords. Cool on the Bloom packs all that.
He can play some mean, hot blues with feeling and conversely, ice-cold instrumentals so impressive and unequivocal that he puts a stamp on the self-proclaimed, but probably well-deserved, title as, "acoustic guitar master" by showcasing prowess and technique. Cool on the Bloom packs that in, too.
From the opening tune "Soc Hop" on, it becomes clear that a guitarist's guitarist is taking you for a fancy ride. Robb is grounded in jazz, laying down a melody, a chordal framework and then interspersing improvisational vertical solos. He wonderfully understands harmony to augment his lyrical lines, leaving you space with the colorful, linear melody, but ripping the solos with perfect taste and sensibility. There's a lovely harmonic and melodic rhythm. When Robb lets loose on his superb solo runs, he keeps the composition in mind and uses all the musical elements to form the architectural shape of the tune, yet maintains an emotional intensity. Simply said, he plays damn good and keeps things interesting with enough musical sophistication to challenge the demanding jazz listener's ear, while interspersing enough roots to blast out the blues with soul.
Of course he can play it all, from a lovely ragtime "Soggy Foot Rag" to swampy Delta slide blues "Holy Spirit, Father and Son." He is a passable singer, and perhaps because he is so superb as an instrumentalist there is somewhat of a skill disparity, but he pulls it off on "Ham Hound Crave." By the time he gets to the end of the album he rips out a soulful and fierce instrumental blues with "Late Night Kahl" that will stun and amaze, only to slide into a mellow, wistful, slow, jazzy "Honey One." He closes the album with the sweet "Grama Jean," a Piedmont-style instrumental, with a tip of the hat to both John Fahey and John Hurt. If by then you are not touched by Robb's exquisite musicality and superlative skill, play it again."