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Guitarist Reynold Philipsek looks back with a new CD, and this week’s jazz picks

By Pamela Espeland | Published Fri, Jul 30 2010 7:00 am

If you’ve heard someone play jazz guitar at Hell’s Kitchen or the Global Market, Centennial Lakes or the Cedar, the Lake Harriet Bandshell or numerous other places around the Twin Cities, chances are it was Reynold Philipsek. He seems to be everywhere, performing with his own quartet, his group East Side, the Twin Cities Hot Club, Gypsy Mania, or Sidewalk Café. A master of many styles — gypsy jazz, straight-ahead, post-bop, tango — he’s a favorite of vocalists including Rhonda Laurie and Lee Engele; he’s Engele’s main accompanist on her warm and sensuous new CD, “In the Key of ‘L.’” Since a brush with cancer in his late 20s, he’s been virtually unstoppable, playing, teaching, composing and recording like a man who knows the value of time.

On Saturday Philipsek will celebrate the release of “All the Things You Are,” his 43rd recording, at the 318 Café in Excelsior. The show has sold out, but if you arrive early, you might score a no-show table or a seat at the bar. It’s worth a try. I’ve been listening to the CD and would like very much to hear it live. An homage to Philipsek’s Czech and Polish ancestors, who settled farmsteads in rural Minnesota in the late 1800s, interwoven with memories and influences from his own childhood, this is music of color and depth, narrative and emotion. Nine of the 10 tracks are original compositions.

“I now fully embrace the heritage that shaped me,” Philipsek says in the liner notes to his new CD. He recently told KBEM’s Maryann Sullivan, “I’ve come to a point in my life as a musician where I can totally accept myself. … I feel like I’m finally reaching some sort of identity I can truly embrace and feel comfortable with.” While the identity crises and angst of youth can spark powerful music, it’s good to hear a grownup play.

Reynold Philipsek CD Release, 8 p.m. Saturday, 318 Café, 318 Water St., Excelsior ($12; admission includes a copy of the new CD). If you miss this, Philipsek will perform some of the new material with his group East Side at Hell’s Kitchen on August 5, 7 p.m.

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