Beauty never fades in the sounds of music, especially when each part blends together with such grace and eloquence as they do on Collage, the new album from Escoto & Simon. The New York-based duo consists of guitarists Martin Simon and Astor Escoto, both of whom swim in synch with the sumptuous melodies of their acoustic instruments. Embellishing their laid-back jazz style with touches of samba, classical, and flamenco music, Escoto & Simon deliver a spellbinder of a record.
The group's hushed prettiness is rooted in their long-term friendship; there is a warmth to the chemistry that could only emanate from such a close brotherhood. The two first met in the late '90s not long after Simon relocated to New York City. It was there that Simon discovered world music, the exotic sounds of Indian, Latin American, and African cultures. Simultaneously, he started to explore the local jazz scene's forays into progressive improvisation. With Escoto, Simon found a kindred spirit, one who shared his eclectic tastes; they began composing and performing with each other.
There is probably no better way of describing Escoto & Simon's creative leanings than the album title itself. Their music is truly a Collage, assembling not only their myriad inspirations but their separate ideas in a compelling whole. The tracks on Collage work on a visual and emotional level. Studio No. 3," for example, rolls out like a film, each riff representing a different frame; it is a song that can be seen as well as felt.
Escoto & Simon have mastered the difficult art of the instrumental on Collage. This is no pointless exercise in showmanship; each tune seems to tell a story or at least convey a mood. Each listen seems to be give birth to a new interpretation, making this a record that stays in the player quite a while.