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Friday, May 4, 2001
The Express-Times

Guitar wiz Tim Reynolds follows nomadic dream

By ROBERT HICKS The Express-Times

Guitarist Tim Reynolds, best known for his work with the Dave Matthews Band, isn't afraid to venture outside rock in his solo career.

His allegiance to jazz fusion is unmistakable alongside elements of Indian music and industrial music.

Reynolds, who is touring in support of his new compact disc "Nomadic Wavelength," performs 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Stanhope House in Stanhope, N.J.

"It reflects the reality of life. Everything keeps changing. Change can happen in a minute," he said of the new disc in a recent telephone interview from a tour stop in Boston. "It's got a lot more straight-up, acoustic things sonically, but it's more complex structurally in its concept."

After spending 18 years in Charlottesville, Va., where he first teamed up with Dave Matthews, Reynolds moved to Sante Fe, N.M. in 1997. The new location has helped him gain a new sense of spaciousness, which surfaces in his new music.

On the new disc, Reynolds performs on six-string and 12-string guitars, which are abetted by sound effects and ashiko, an Africa drum.

"At the beginning of last year, I was listening again to records I liked in my 20s," said the 43-year-old Reynolds. "It was acoustic jazz, but not like straight-up swing or anything like that. It was mostly European avant-garde music or things that stretched the normal harmonies of jazz. I was also into guys like John McLaughlin, but I was also into darker jazz, not like the way we think of dark music now with Marilyn Manson and scary subject matter, but the tonality of darkness in these older guys that played acoustic jazz."

In this respect, Reynolds points to John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner as his main mentors.

"Their approach to the chords in their music was just really unusual," he said. "At first, it sounded wrong to me and it intrigued me, but I later realized that what they were playing was what they call polychords, superimposing two different, seemingly non-harmonious chords, but figuring out ways to make it sound really dark and scary in the nature of the tones, not the nature of the sound. That's always intrigued me - that dark, minimal approach to music."

Such musical exploration wasn't always available to Reynolds. His father, a Pentecostal military man, frowned on any musical experiences outside church revivals. Like many adventurous youth restricted by conservative values, he rebelled, embracing musical influences as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Andres Segovia, Jimi Hendrix and Nine Inch Nails. Today, Reynolds can take challenges in his solo music in part because of the financial success he's enjoyed as a part-time lead guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band. The two musicians met in Charlottesville, where Matthews tended bar and Reynolds played a weekly Monday night solo set at Miller's nightclub.

Reynolds has recorded with the funky, worldbeat platinum-selling band on albums ranging from 1973's "Remember Two Things" to 1998's "Before These Crowded Streets." More recently in 1999, Matthews and Reynolds did an acoustic tour, which resulted in their equally successful CD "Live at Luther College."

Despite offers from many labels to do a solo rock album, Reynolds has remained steadfast in his devotion to the experimental side of his personality in his solo career.

"It's the unlimited aspect of it that appeals to me," he said of his solo career. "You're only limited by what you can do, so the situation itself always challenges you to make it musical. It's the balance of being musical and experimental and building real songs that have little journeys. With all the different kinds of approaches to music I try to use on the acoustic guitar in instrumental music, it kinda helps to make a greater variety of experience."

Tim Reynolds will perform at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Stanhope House, 45 Main St., Stanhope, N.J. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. For tickets and information, call 973-347-0458.