Allan Holdsworth’s Legacy: The Nineteen Men Of Tain

A cast of virtuoso cognoscenti including John Etheridge, Mike Stern and Jason Rebello salute the singular genius of Bradford's gift to guitar


If it isn’t immediately clear to the uninitiated, this tribute album’s title ironically refers to the late, great guitarist Allan Holdsworth’s 10th studio album The Sixteen Men Of Tain (Gnarly Geezer, 2000) and there are actually 19 musicians involved in this musical homage. Tributes to famed guitarists have been assembled before, a recent example being Honoring Pat Martino (HighNote, 2022), but one dedicated to this complex genius is very welcome.

The project was conceived in a pub by two London-based musicians, Enrico Pinna and Ollie Usiskin, who felt that a tribute to Holdsworth’s legacy was due. Over the course of four years they painstakingly accumulated these recordings with the assistance of 17 willing and talented participants, including some famous names. They were also keen that the proceeds generated from the album’s sale would be invested in an annual festival and music contest in honour of Holdsworth and his music.

All the tunes presented here were composed by Holdsworth except for Red Alert by Tony Newton, Fred by Alan Pasqua – both of which appeared on the New Tony Williams Lifetime album Believe It (Columbia, 1975) on which the guitarist played – and City Nights by Gary Husband heard on Holdsworth’s Secrets album (Intima, 1989). John Etheridge, who took over the guitar chair from Holdsworth in Soft Machine, executes a suitably stunning solo on Red Alert, explaining why the Softs considered him the only possible replacement for the seemingly irreplaceable Holdsworth.

Pinna, a remarkably dextrous and fluid guitarist, appears on all but one track including Devil Takes The Hindmost from Metal Fatigue (Enigma, 1985) which also features virtuoso guitarist Mike Stern. Co-instigator Usiskin plays drums on seven out of the 13 tracks. All the tunes on the record are brilliantly performed and constitute a superb and deserved testament to the legendary guitarist.

Wardenclyffe Tower; Looking Glass; Devil Takes The Hindmost; Three Sheets To The Wind; Red Alert; Letters Of Marque; Water On The Brain; Fred; City Nights; Above & Below-Material Unreal; Protocosmos; Non Brewed; Endomorph (66.59)
Enrico Pinna (elg, g, kyb, syn); Mike Stern, John Etheridge, John Wheatcroft (elg); Jason Rebello (p); Steve Lodder (elp); Luca Dell’Anna, Luca Lamari (kyb); Bob Franceschini (ts); Roberto Tiranti (v); Alex Lofoco, Antoine Fafard (elb); Paul Wertico (d, pc); Joel Taylor, Loui Palmer, Ollie Usiskin, Jimmy Pallagrosi, Sebastiaan Cornelissen, Enzo Zirilli (d). No details of date or location but probably London, c. 2018-2022.
Ubuntu Music UBU0132