Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft Serenity Knolls
(RareNoise Records, 2017)
Although Kingston-based Rasta polymath Jamie Saft is best known as an accomplished keyboardist and studio maven, his recorded work as a guitarist dates as far back as two decades to his sessions with Jerry Granelli. His dobro and lap steel skills get a rare, ample, and ravishing workout on this new collaboration with his fellow local multi-instrumentalist, guitarist Bill Brovold. The album title references the rehab center where Jerry Garcia died, striking a fitting balance for these 12 often stark tone poems—some warm and serene, others as dark and searching as the emotions upon the loss of a loved one. Much of the darkness comes from Brovold's chimes-at-midnight, dirge-y chordal atmospheres enveloping Saft's adept, pealing slide chorales. Ironically, the title track is also the brightest piece here, converting tragedy into ecstasy; a transformation that is both the agony and the eternal triumph of the blues. Rarenoiserecords.com.