So sad: virtuoso guitarist Allan Holdsworth unexpectedly died at 70 on 16th April 2017, and I wager he’s in heaven jamming with Coltrane, maybe having a nice brew after, with a perfect head.

There are not many musicians who can carve out a niche like Holdsworth did, but carve he did. Odd in both meter and harmonic sense, Holdsworth’s genius music is an aural and intellectual feast, which defies pigeon-holing. Was it fusion? Jazz? Or just “Holdsworthian”.

I have a little anecdote. I did a couple sessions with a band here in Japan, whose leader decided we should play “Letters of Marque”, one of my absolute favorite tunes. I wrote out some notes about the tune so I could remember the changes and number of measures and so on, and after a hard-hitting sweaty run of this tune, the bass player remarked: “nice, you actually counted that out exactly.” It made me smile, and I remember the comment even 20-odd years later. Don’t mess with perfection.

Speaking of, it’s so hard on guitar that you can’t easily get someone to cover it, so, the band leader was playing the AH parts on synth. A wild ride for sure.

His music and style was decidedly anti-pop, and most people probably wouldn’t like it, but I’m in that apparent weird minority of people who enjoy this sort of thing. Maybe you’ll like it too:

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