WWW.ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM (US) by Glenn Astarita
"Belgian acoustic guitarist Gilbert Isbin’s intricate finger picking and seamless blend of folksy themes, combined with a reconstruction of Hendrix’ “Little Wing,” is enhanced by his jazz-based sensibilities. His articulations might spur notions of the late, great American guitarist John Fahey."
ACOUSTIC GUITAR WORKSHOP.COM (UK) by Steve Elliott
" Listen up! Gilbert Isbin, the Belgian guitar maestro, has released a fine new CD on the Traurige Tropen label. Gilbert has got to be one of the most experimental guitar players on the planet, with an angular, left-field approach to playing and composing. Isbin's nylon string guitar explores hitherto unchartered maps of fingerstyle harmony. However "Red Wine" is a far more approachable CD than his previous more avant garde work, "Blisters", a CD recorded with Joe Fonda, the American bassist. Where "Blisters" stretches the boundaries of tonality, structure and form, "Red Wine" is a far more melodic vintage with instant appeal right from the opening bars of the excellent "Happy At Your Doorstep". And in fact, the CD contains at least one monster tune you are guaranteed to know! As with all great guitarists, you know immediately when Gilbert is at the strings. Case in point: there is a truly gorgeous instrumental version of "Little Wing" on this CD which is immediately identifiable as Hendrix, yet is stamped indelibly with the deft and imaginative Isbin feel and touch. Hendrix, I think, would have approved. After all, Jimmy was a past master himself at appropriating other people songs and making them his own. (As an aside, I must draw your attention to an earlier CD: "Gilbert Isbin Plays Nick Drake". This extraordinary gift of arranging other people's music and presenting it in such a unique fashion is exemplified on Gilbert's awesome arrangements of the tragically doomed English guitarist and songwriter, Nick Drake.) (Tabs available from AGW) The opening track "Happy At Your Doorstep" is another classic example of Gilbert Isbin's impressive and never obvious approach. It starts off with almost classical guitar figures, dancing intoxicatingly in high arpeggiated spirits, before the tune spins and veers off, taking you on a rollercoaster ride of rhythmic and chordal explorations and expositions. Listening to "Red Wine" really is an exhilarating experience... strange voicings, insistent and driving chord clusters combined with intense rhythmic invention and hypnotic grooves, hybrid bebop, jazz and bluesy arabesques... Gilbert Isbin takes the guitar to places it has never been before. All 14 tracks on this excellent CD showcase a guitarist and composer at the top of his game. "Red Wine" is an invigorating brew, a testament to a truely gifted and original player."
BRIDGE GUITAR REVIEWS (The Netherlands) Aug 2003, Henk te Veldhuis
"This new album of this openhearted Belgian acoustic guitarist, is played on a classical nylon string guitar. Gilbert Isbin shows on this album many Spanish influences combined with his own musical views and improvising talent. "Happy at your Doorstep" is the opening track, which is a very quick played piece with a repeating theme in augmented and some disharmonic phrases. “Little Wing” is the famous Jimi Hendrix song, and Gilbert has made an entire own challenging arrangement of this great piece. "Simple Pleasure" is a complex composition in the same atmosphere which almost the entire reflects, which takes the listeners possibilities to “dig in” Gilbert's music, as sometimes his music is complex for the average listener.”Nuages” of Django Reinhardt is played with passion and intimacy. “Deep and Blue” goes deep under your skin and is played in very complicated chord chances, with disharmonic elements. "Close" has a very low bass tuning, but is a very original and easy accessible piece, which has a nice melodic structure in an intimate setting. "Wonderwall" is a well-balanced composition with a great melody line. “As the Light Begins to Pale”, the last track has a exquisite structure and reflects intimacy,surely one of my favorites. Red Wine” is a challenging album which combines complexity in music, with intimate and reflecting compositions. “Red Wine” takes you on journey, enjoy the ride!"