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Guitarist Kyle Walz Exhilarates With Collection Of Jazz And R&B Covers

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There is a double meaning in the title of guitarist Kyle Walz's latest album, Lifted Standards. On one hand, it's a reference to the fact that the record is a collection of covers; in other words, these songs are 'lifted' from other artists. But in a subjective sense the music can really lift the spirits. Until spring rolls along, Lifted Standards delivers exhilarating waves of pure sunshine, much of it beaming from Walz's incandescent playing.

Walz looks not only to jazz but to R&B to select his reinterpretations. It's a wise choice, delivering a more eclectic menu for the listener to feast on; moreover, it enables Walz to truly unveil the range of his guitar skills. Walz's version of Stevie Wonder's “I Just Called to Say I Love You" is breathtaking in its unplugged beauty; this slow, soulful acoustic rendition is just as warm and comforting as the original. Even without lyrics, Walz is able to convey the tune's message of romantic commitment with the same degree of passion.

Emotion is the key to Walz's success; there is feeling in his performances. On “Killing Me Softly," Walz echoes Roberta Flack's wounded fragility so accurately that her voice isn't even missed. Nevertheless, Walz is capable of lighting technical fireworks, too. He contributes fiery soloing to Santana's “Black Magic Woman," injecting the funky Latin backbeat with a scorching blast of the blues.

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