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The New Imperial by Julien Kasper Band

The CD The New Imperial blasts off from the very first track, a tune entitled "The JB Groove." A heavy sounding blues/rock, funk fireball featuring the wailing guitar of Kasper, who in this tune is very reminiscent of the late great James Marshal (Jimi) Hendrix. Bass player Blendi Dhami maintains a steady driving force while drummer Zac Casher plays off the guitarist, adding fills in the spaces, resulting in a huge full sound.

On the song "About Rudy," the band has a different sound, with Kasper getting a hollow tone utilizing effects that produce lots of tremolo. This song has a nice blues feel, a mix of guitar styles, open chords and single-note intricate runs that end with lots of sustain.

Keyboard player and special guest Lefteris Kordis does a nice job on "All of the Years," a song that has everything, tempo changes, beautiful melody, wonderful harmonies between keys and guitar and a rock solid rhythm section.

"Jacket Full of Bees" is a straight-ahead fusion tune in the vain of Return to Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra. We also witness flashes of brilliance with powerhouse drumming from Casher.

The title track, "The New Imperial," is a full-sounding slow blues with a solid, thumping bass line and a swinging drum track. Kasper solos mightily in a style that lends itself to Jeff Beck. Ken Clark lays down some fine organ playing that reminds me of blues great Al Kooper. This is a highlight track for me. The song has a feel-good rhythm and the band is playing with a combined energy. The musicians are in touch with the spirit of the song and that is transmitted to the listener.

Ken Clark is featured on "Zulie" playing a Rhodes electric piano and he performs some wicked sounding runs and syncopated choppy chords with Kasper in fine accompaniment mode, playing off the rhythm with some tasteful licks in response. Kasper has a nice clean tone on this song. The tune has a bouncy upbeat feel and is another good time song.

The CD finishes in guitar anthem mode. "Requiem (for bottle)" scales up and down the fret board and a battle of distortions in a harmonically delightful way. Think Hendrix' "Star Spangled Banner" less the six 100-watt Marshall stacks.

The CD is well produced, the sound is very good and the players are all excellent. Kasper has some great ideas and he incorporates them nicely into his well written songs. Kasper has written all of the songs with the exception of "I am a Centaur" and "Zulie," written by Kasper and Casher. If you are into a guitar-based rock/fusion style with a solid blues foundation, I strongly recommend Julien Kasper Band's The New Imperial.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Julien Kasper Band
  • CD Title: The New Imperial
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Nugene Records
  • Tracks: The JB Groove, Promise, 8 to 11, I am a Centaur, About Rudy, All of the Years, Sister, Jacket Full of Bees, In the Fields, The New Imperial, Zulie, Requiem (for Bottle)
  • Musicians: Julien Kasper (guitar), Zac Casher (drums), Blendi Dhami (electric and acoustic bass), Ken Clark (keyboards), Lefteris Kordis (electric piano)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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