Throughout musical history, how many eminent musicians have produced musical offspring? The number may seem surprisingly low — Leopold Mozart certainly did, as did J.S. Bach. But as for musicians like Haydn, Debussy and Dvořák, there was nobody to carry on the family tradition. Closer to home, this is clearly not the case with clarinettist James Campbell, whose son Graham is a fine guitarist and pedagogue; the two have happily joined forces on this Marquis Classics disc titled As You Near Me.
Long referred to as “Canada’s pre-eminent clarinetist and wind soloist,” James Campbell has enjoyed an international career as soloist and chamber musician for more than 35 years. His son Graham earned his music degree at Humber College and has since made a name for himself as a gifted guitarist and composer in Toronto’s music community.
This is actually the second recording father and son have produced (the first was Homemade Jam in 2003). Nevertheless, with this release, Graham’s talents as a composer are also showcased, for eight of the 16 tracks bear his name. There are many things to like about this recording, not the least of which is the eclecticism; it draws from several sources, including jazz, Latin and central European. The two Campbells are joined on certain tracks by other performers such as the Afiara String Quartet and bassists Sam McLellan and Bob Mills. James Campbell’s lyrical tone combined with the skilful guitar work (either as a solo or as accompaniment) produces an appealing sound, with the younger Campbell’s own compositions proving particularly engaging.
As You Near Me is the perfect disc for relaxing to on an autumn weekend — or for that matter, any day of the week, during any season. Recommended.