If you’ve been in magic for any length of time you will probably have heard of David Solomon – one of the big guns in Card Magic. And you could not ask for a better introduction to his work. This latest offering from Big Blind Media is a big 3 disc set. So we’re not going to go into full detail about every effect, but instead try to give you a bit of an overview.
Here’s a 34-word summary if you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing:
Are you a fan of thought-through card magic? If you like John Bannon but you don’t like beards, David Solomon could be the answer. We just wish he would move a bit more…
Otherwise, here goes…
Disc1 ‘Mathematically Speaking’
In this section Solomon brings some of his thinking and twists to three more or less self-working effects.
The venerable ‘clock’ trick on speed with a Blackjack theme. It gives extra climaxes when compared with the original, but for me, just like its predecessor, the whole premise/selection process is a bit contrived.
The 21 Card Trick
A streamlined version of the ‘old classic’. 3 phases – each looking more impossible than the previous. For me the explanation here was slightly confused – Solomon is not the most natural teacher in the world. Often his ‘sidekicks’ have to prompt him to go over details more clearly. But when you’ve understood it, this is a lovely way of turning a simple trick into more of a mystery.
A multiple phase poker routine with lots of very free and fair looking mixing. Based on an old Stuart James routine (hence the name) but with a few Solomon tweaks. Pretty much a self-worker. You will fool yourself! Neat.
The second part of Disc 1 is called Classics Plus
a234 elevator (revised)
This is a clever ‘elevator’ routine which needs a table to perform. There is lots of magic in the effect but it is quite complicated to follow the first time you watch it.
The Fingerprint Trick
I wasn’t familiar with the earlier versions of this but it is apparently an established plot. You locate a spectator’s card by a fingerprint on it, and when it appears to have gone wrong you recover it very magically. For me a puzzler more than a stunner, but I can see it working well for laypeople.
Simplex Oil & Water
I have been interested in variations on this theme for many years and there is much to commend this version. Only 4 black and 4 red cards, no gaffs so do it anywhere. I really like this one and think I will be using it… Why don’t you pause and have a watch…
O’Henry Jazz Aces
This is a clever ace assembly where the final climax is really unexpected. Largely achieved with an efficient set up. Definitely worth a look at this one.
Solmar Aces Revisited
A ‘one at a time’ ace assembly where they dis-assemble (!) again at the end. It was developed in conjunction with Marlo (hence the name). This is quite a detailed handling to remember, but if you like this kind of effect, this is a well thought through routine. Once more Solomon’s explanation is made clearer by the intervention of a sidekick (in this case John Bannon).
A number of the routines in the next two discs can be found in Solomon’s book, The Wisdom of Solomon.
Disc 2 – Just a little something extra
Blank Jazz Aces
This is a strong closer. It uses some gaffs (as you’d expect with a routine that ends with a blank deck!).
Blank thought revisited
A spectator does the mind-reading sandwich effect with a blank card! A few spread controls are required but otherwise fairly straightforward and a novel effect.
Jokers are wild
A signed joker morphs into spectator’s chosen card. Not an impromptu effect, but a neat little routine. Based on a Dick Kornwinder idea.
The second part of Disc 2 is titled Subtle Card Effects
Card in the card case
An interesting premise of an ‘observation test’ to provide the basis for a card to card case routine. Very clever little routine with some sneaky convincers. I like this one a lot.
This is another clever routine which combines a ‘King Assembly’ with a ‘Spectator cuts the Queens’. Best of all it relies mainly on one ingenious and not too difficult move. Another ‘worker’.
Marlo’s secret Kato
A chosen card cleanly jumps from a face down packet to a face up one. For some reason this one doesn’t really grab me.
Pure Vice Versa
Two selected cards jump out of the pack, and then swap places in a very subtle way. The main thing here is a very useful little swap move which should have many applications.
Two queens are of assistance in locating two chosen cards. A solid routine.
Disc 3 – For the Card Expert
Clearly up the ladder
This is the only time I’ve ever seen a poorly filmed effect on a BBM disc. In the performance segment he could have done just about anything after his initial display – we just couldn’t see what was going on. Four cards repeatedly rise to the top of a packet with a royal flush finish.
Does what it says on the tin – but with a ‘four of a kind’ kicker.
Half a dream
A chosen card reverses itself in the back after the trick appears to go wrong.
Kissing cousins twice removed
This is a real fooler. King and Queen repeatedly jump from top and bottom of pack to the centre. Looks great. Based on an old Paul Curry effect. Will require some handling to get it looking this good…
A shuffling trick where the Kings, and then Aces rise to the top of the deck with a royal flush finish. This doesn’t do so much for me though with a bit more pizzazz it might work for lay folk. The explanation is a bit brief – but a more detailed explanation can be found in the The Wisdom of Solomon book.
A couple of bonus items
The disc finishes with a couple of routines that require extra props.
Time warp wallet
A thought of card to wallet using a wallet which Solomon can provide.
Solomon’s take on Peter Kane’s classic effect using cards supplied by card-shark. His patter story wouldn’t work for me. But an interesting variation on the handling utilising ideas from a number of other places.
Throughout the discs there is an extended interview with John Bannon that has been split into four segments. This is an interesting insight into the differences between the two magicians. It covers the creation of magic, the feel of their infamous ‘Chicago Sessions’ like and reactions to other people using your work.
Some general thoughts…
Whilst there is much to enjoy on this set, I have a few reservations which I will deal with first.
The discs contain very little ‘real world’ performance and for my taste, some of the presentations a bit boring? In this context it is interesting that Solomon admits during one of the interview segments that he is more of a ‘creator’ than a ‘performer’. That is why the title, ‘Card Solutions’ is so appropriate. He seems to come to his magic from the point of view of solving problems rather than creating engaging routines. That is not to say that a good performer couldn’t use these effects and make them very engaging – but Solomon’s performances sometimes seem a little uninspiring.
On a related note, he frequently ‘improves’ an effect by adding a poker-based kicker of climax. I wonder whether that works more effectively in his US context than in our UK one, where poker is probably not so pervasive.
From a technical point of view, many of the effects require a significant stack so they are not really impromptu or re-setting – so not great for walkaround. He also seems to rely heavily on culling – or variations on that technique.
As with his friend John Bannon’s work, you will learn lots here about how to routine an effect and to streamline a routine. He is very good at attributing sources and there is often interesting discussion about the development of trick.
And make no mistake, there are some very strong routines on here – and also a range of ‘levels’ – from the self-worker to the more finger-flinging. At around the £30 mark, this is good value. You get a lot of magic for your money. Why not take a look…