Doug Cox said that slide guitar is all about “the notes between the notes,” so it makes sense that he would be attracted to Indian music, with its bends and slides. On Make a Better World, he has again teamed up with satvik veena player Salil Bhatt, to perform unique takes on everything from ragas to an extremely hypnotic version of Dan Hicks’ I Scare Myself.
This, the second in the Slide to Freedom series, is also a worthy introduction to John Boutte, a fine New Orleans jazz singer and for Cox, another great collaborator. Boutte, Cox et al, put new life into Amazing Grace, with tabla, satvik veena and of course, slide guitar.
As the title suggest, Without Words is an instrumental compilation that shows both Cox’s versatility and the range of musicians he has performed with over the years. They include Tony Trischka, Sam Hurrie, John Reischman, Todd Butler, Salil Bhatt, April Verch and Tony McManus. And he has tackled a wide scope of covers on the resophonic, from the Beatles to Weather Report.
While there are no words on the album, there are vocals of a sort — some crazy growling at the end of a hopped-up version of Duke Ellington’s Caravan. But for the most part Cox lets a shaped stainless steel bar or a glass tube do the talking with the usual eloquence.