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Barcodes by Synergy

The term "contemporary jazz" has been mistreated in recent years, due mainly to the lack of new quality artists delivering the goods, and partially due to the industry carelessly lending the term as an identifier to everything from acid jazz to the often-dreaded "smooth jazz" genres.

Fortunately for us, Synergy reminds us that there is an art form in which jazz can expand beyond the mundane and take on powerful, almost uncharacteristic energy borrowed from rock, world and even electronic elements while maintaining the integrity that has defined the genre. Part jazz part fusion, part electronic, Synergy is not just a name, it's a philosophy that these guys have nailed down that is apparent like lightning through this whole CD.

The players that make up this outfit are all accomplished and super-savvy, some notable guests on the CD include: Trey Gunn (King Crimson), saxman Jeff (Bela Fleck; guitarist Mike Brannon (has performed with members of the groups of Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, McCoy Tyner, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, to name a few); pianist Dave Eskridge (arranger; Tower Of Power horns)..while credentials aren't everything, the experience and intelligence is apparent here in more ways than one.

Prowl, the opening track on Synergy's self-released Barcodes CD, sets a great stage for the album to unfold upon, boasting a groove that grabs your attention from bar one. The crux of Synergy's style is that subtlety meets virtuosity, and rather than being bombarded with offensive "blowing" over a rhythm track, ideas are interwoven into textures that can be consumed by the consumer and the virtuoso alike.

Tracks 3 and 4 (Tripod & Double standard) feature guitarist/writer Brannon, and take on a great quality that will remind listeners of the some of the group's self-proclaimed influences such as Mike Stern, Pat Metheny and others. Brannon handles lines and textures with that same silent fire that lights up this whole CD.

Mellower cuts such as Change Of Plans (track 6), are worlds apart from tracks like "Habit" (an up-tempo pusher that closes the CD), and show the tremendous range of this group; the tremendous range that we should be lucky enough to hear from more contemporary jazz outfits.

In a sentence, Barcodes is smart and savvy, atmospheric yet powerful, and takes the fusion, jazz or rock listener on a great ride that they'll want to revisit again. Highly recommended.

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Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Synergy
  • CD Title: Barcodes
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Musicians: Mike Brannon, guitar; Dave Foster, electric bass; Darren Kuper, drums; Greg Norris, Acoustic Bass. Guests : Trey Gunn, Stick/8-string Warr Guitar; Jeff Coffin, sax; Dave Eskridge, Piano/Keys; Anthony Bazzani, Piano/Rhodes/Organ/clav; Rich Potter, tenor/EWI, Andy Langham, Organ/clav/keys/rhodes.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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