Fate can really bite you on the hiney - take the late Sonny Sharrock (1940-1994). After years of inactivity, one of the very first (if not THE first, playing with Pharaoh Sanders, Don Cherry, Marzette Watts) free jazz guitarists was recording & touring, under his leadership or with the fierce improv collective Last Exit. He’d just been given a major label contract, and then he dies at home of heart failure while exercising. Archie Bunker voice here: "Ooh jeeez." He was one of a kind, and guitarist Noël Akchoté wisely does not try to "replicate" his dense, incendiary style on this tribute to Sonny. In point of fact, this solo recital is mostly acoustic, in sharp contrast to the Son-man’s electric axe. Akchoté instead concentrates on Sharrock’s compositions and themes, interpreting them in a manner that’s alternately off-kilter "free" (a la Fred Frith, Derek Bailey) and melodious & folk-like (a la John Fahey) - but while Akchoté is an ace free-improv type, he’s never too far from the Delta blues (as a rhythmic or melodic basis). There are some cool covers, like Dovovan’s flower-power romp "There Is A Mountain," which Sharrock used to play when he was a member of Herbie Mann’s band, and originals, like the entrancing Phillip Glass-meets-Doc Watson "Joe." Akchoté has a most formidable technique, but it doesn’t get in the way - this music isn’t about "technique," it’s about feel, both earthy and abstract, and perhaps about exploring some shared roots. Yes, Sonny II IS an album for six-string devotees, but it NEEDS to be heard by more than the avant/free posse! Call me crazy, but I imagine fans of Jerry Garcia, the acoustic sides John McLaughlin & Larry Coryell, folk/trad country picker Norman Blake, guitar icon Fahey and Pete Townsend will likely find much to savor here. Three thumbs way, way up!