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Well worth a listen

Open Road
Open Road
By Joe Venegoni

Triaxon Music: 1992

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This review first appeared in the October 9, 1992 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Dulcimer player Joe Venegoni's brash pop jazz has a fresh appeal to it, not the least of which is due to the fact that his instrument of choice is a hammer dulcimer. A master of the instrument, Venegoni gets many more sounds out of the dulcimer than just the expected clavichord tinniness.

At times, too, his music escapes the bounds of light jazz and crosses into artistic jazz. In fact, to be fair, Venegoni's music is pretty hard to categorize. Like many smooth jazz artists, his music often features breezy melodies and simple harmonies. At other times, though, there is legitimate improvisation going on – which is what sets real jazz apart from other musics. And there are also elements of new age here.

The supporting musicians are pretty strong, as well. Barbara Else's flute plays off Venegoni's dulcimer particularly well, both in tone and spirit (and she can lay down an eerily realistic coyote howl). This is a neat album of jazz and jazz-tinged instrumental music that is well worth a listen.