Jim Kimo West - MORE Guitar stories Untitled 1
Ken Emerson and Friends
More Guitar Stories
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Gorgeous 2021 GRAMMY Award Winning Album

The Recording Academy awarded More Guitar Stories, an album filled with an eclectic mix all original compositions and gorgeous musical collaborations ranging in style from West African, Celtic, Indian Classical, and Americana, the Grammy for Best New Age Album in 2021.  Jim Kimo West is considered one of the world's top slack key guitarists worthy of kudos from Hawaiian masters of the open chord playing style based on dozens of mood-tinged tunings.

Guitarist Kimo West (aka Jim West) is probably best known as the guitarist in musical satirist "Weird Al" Yankovic's band. Anyone familiar with Yankovic's music knows that is an eclectic gig, but West is even more eclectic on his own. He jokingly describes this album—a sequel to Guitar Stories: Slack Key & Beyond (Westernmost Records, 2016)—as a "Slack Key, New Age, Jazz, Funk, Celtic, Americana and Indian Classical mashup." Crazy as that sounds, it is about right; West uses slack key open guitar tunings for all of his main guitar parts, which are named and spelled out in the liner notes. Try them at home! But the music demonstrates how stylistically flexible they can be.

"Mele Ahiahi-Evening Song" opens the set with a gentle evocation of the evening. Despite the Hawaiian title, it has more of a general Americana sound, with the unique coloration of West's pedal steel imitation in the accompaniment. "Windward" has more of a band sound, led by Charlie Bisharat's violin, with a fine Jimmy Johnson fretless bass solo as well. In fact, the whole album includes a larger cast of guest musicians than its predecessor. "Birimintingo" is a term from West African kora playing. West employs two slack-key tuned guitars to create a remarkable emulation of that instrument's sound, as well as a West African feel.

"Tin Roof Shing-A-Ling" sounds like a rural village party, with a funky feel aided by Ben Powell's violin and Dan Lutz's upright bass (both players also contributed to the first album). The beautiful ballad "Moonbow" features a singing Moog guitar part (not a synthesizer, but an electric guitar with unique sustain and filter possibilities) accompanied by a string orchestra and cellist Simone Vitucci (another veteran of the previous record). "The Lydian Sea" takes inspiration from Indian classical music. The picture is completed by Cenk Erdogan's fretless guitar (sounding like a sarod) and two Indian percussionists. West's only solo guitar track, the slack key blues "Sugar Cane Blues" demonstrates his potent storytelling skills without accompaniment.

It is hard to imagine a fan of finger-style guitar playing who would not find something to like here. West is in full command as guitarist and composer, crafting a diverse series of musical portraits, with the aid of a large cast of empathetic guest players. Here's hoping for a shorter wait until the next installment.

All About Jazz - Mark Sullivan


Jim Kimo West is recognized as one of the world's top slack key guitarists bringing his own unique musical perspective to this great acoustic guitar tradition. Besides his solo slack key career, West is best known as the long-time guitarist on CDs and tours for the world's most famous musical satirist, "Weird Al" Yankovic whose CD, Mandatory Fun debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and won the Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. West is also a prolific composer with a generous output of new, exciting slack key guitar originals.  In addition he writes and produces music for too numerous to mention feature films and television shows.

A Canadian native, West grew up in Florida and was playing professionally in various rock bands by age 16.  A decade later he landed in Los Angeles and began working with "Weird Al" Yankovic.  West can be heard on and seen in all of Yankovic's iconoclastic videos, albums, and concerts playing guitar.

In 1985 to decompress after a long summer Weird Al tour, Jim made his first trip to Hana, Maui. He fell in love with the culture and the physical landscape of Hawaii.  As the sounds of Gabby Pahinui, the Sons of Hawaii, Sonny Chillingworth, The Sunday Manoa, and others played on the turntable, Jim jammed along for fun and relaxation. Already a long-time devotee of open tunings, he was immediately drawn to the gentle rhythms of the slack key guitar and soon began writing his own songs.  West didn't concentrate on learning the standard riffs and songs but instead developed his own unique slack key vocabulary which now defines his very unique approach to this great tradition.

While always retaining the heartfelt essence of traditional slack key, Jim Kimo West brings his own musical heritage to his original slack key instrumentals.  His style can best be described as nahenahe, a Hawaiian term that means soft, sweet, or of gentle voice - a fusion of old and new deeply rooted in tradition.

West's most recent album More Guitar Stories won the music industry's most prestigious award, the Grammy, for Best New Age Album at The Recording Academy's 2021 event honoring excellence and exceptional achievement.

West also received a Grammy nomination for his album Moku Maluhia (Peaceful Island) in 2019, has been acknowledged by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for his work on Mandatory Fun, is a recipient of the Hawaii Music Awards (American Music Awards equivalent), has been honored by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts with a Na Hoku Hanohano Award (Hawaiian Grammy) nomination, and is a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions toward the perpetuation of the Hawaiian slack key guitar.

Jim Kimo West  - More Guitar Stories - WMR 3008-2

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