WBGO Radar

Diego Barber: Tales

cover art to diego Barber's CD Tales

Classical and jazz guitarist Diego Barber is not one to shie away from a challenge.

If he sees a mountain outside his window, he’ll climb it, preferably in sneakers.

Tales, his new duo album with pianist Craig Taborn, is a case in point. Just four tracks, the CD features the two musicians, exposed, head to head.

Not only does Barber match wits with Taborn, one of the most imaginative younger players of his instrument, he does so in a pared-down setting that dares both to explore and expand the full expressive range of their instruments, which they do.

“Kilian’s Mountains,” the album’s surging, panoramic opening track, spans twenty-seven minutes and celebrates the exploits of Kilian Jornet Burgada, a fellow Spaniard and world-class mountain trail runner. Jornet is Catalan and Barber is from the Canary Islands.

“Cipres,” which clocks in at just under thirteen minutes, evokes the motions of a cypress tree swaying in Canary Island storm winds.

“Eternal 7” explores extended techniques on both instruments, and celebrates the jersey number of Raul Gonzalez Blanco, one of the stars of Barber’s favorite soccer team, Real Madrid.

“Im Park” was written for Barber by guitarist Ricardo Gallen, but features Taborn’s stately solo piano for the first seven minutes. He is then joined by Barber, who closes the evocative piece, which brings to mind Jean-Luc Godard’s famous words: “A film should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.”

  - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

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