Tom Ollendorff: Solo Volume I

Young guitarist plays mostly standards, mixing amplified and unamplified sound and exploiting the reverberant acoustic of a London church


Guitar virtuoso Tom Ollendorff’s exquisite debut set is best described as an EP, if such creatures exist in the digital age, for its brevity rules out any further aspirations.

Ollendorff had long wanted to record some solo guitar music, and found that the inspiring surroundings and wonderful acoustics of a church in London’s Notting Hill put him in a suitable mindset. As he explains, “The natural resonance of the space means that we could use a blend of the acoustic sound of my wonderful Moffa guitar with a clean amplified tone, and the natural reverb in the church did the rest of the heavy lifting.”

The six pieces are a mix of standards and two original compositions. All showcase his virtuosic technique, his exemplary and precise note choice, and his ability to swing with nuance and sensitivity. They also showcase his willingness to let the music speak for itself, pausing for breath and emphasis whenever required.

These Foolish Things is a delight because of its understatement, ’Round Midnight because it avoids the usual clichés of the song, while the wistful longings of In A Sentimental Mood are captured just perfectly. His own Watercolours is a gentle delight, the guitar lapping gently across the tune, the concluding Au Privave a strong, mid-tempo finale.

Solo Volume I is all too brief, but I have great hopes for Volume 2.

Round Midnight; Etude 8 (Awakening); These Foolish Things; In A Sentimental Mood; Watercolours; Au Privave (17.37)
Ollendorff (g). St John’s Notting Hill, London, 30 August 2023.
Ubuntu Music UBU0168