Robbie Basho, pioneer of the American Raga and champion of the “Zen-Buddhist-Cowboysong,” is getting his penultimate album, Bouquet, reissued this year. Thanks to Grass-Tops Recording we can finally reexamine the late songs of the ambitious man who promoted the steel-stringed guitar as a concerto instrument. Basho (born Daniel Robinson) was a student of sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and the most elusive figure among the Takoma label trinity of acoustic guitar innovators. The exact details of his life remain shrouded in mist, although efforts have been made lately (see Liam Barker’s recent documentary) to decode the myth behind the man who managed to evoke the sublime vastness of the American landscape through unconventional tunings. His mesmerizing tracks are characterized by a wide assortment of hues and influences, which include everything from koto and classical, to Hindustani and bluegrass. Each song in Bouquet is a finger-picked hymn, an ode to love and its numerous manifestations. The original recordings, released in 1983, were awash with unwelcomed hiss, but the thorns have been clipped, revealing the stunning beauty of Basho’s voice. The reissue also includes four bonus tracks and a studio version of “Omar Khayyam Country."
Bouquet is out this spring on Grass-Tops Recording.