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Kif Express by David Fiuczynski

Fusion jazz guitarist David "Fuze" Fiuczynski, known best for his work with Screaming Headless Torsos, has a discography list as long as an arm and has worked with more artists than can possibly be counted. In addition to groundbreaking work with Medeski, Martin and Wood, he has worked with Randy Brecker, Christian McBride, Hiromi, Don Byron, George Russell’s Living Time Orchestra, Greg Osby, Branford Marsalis and Stewart Copland.

To most this recording will sound like progressive rock. The foundational power trio lineup of Fuze on guitars, Steve Jenkins on bass (who has worked with artists like Screaming Headless Torsos, Dean Bowman, Sam Kininger, Adam Deitch, K'Alyn, MC Kabir, Steve Hunt, Eric Krasno of Soulive, Hiromi and Prince’s drummer John Blackwell) and Skoota Warner on drums (who has worked with blues greats Johnny Copeland and Johnny Johnson, and others like Santana, B-52's, Lionel Ritchie, Cyndi Lauper and Mary J. Blige) demonstrates this in their emphasis and work with shifting meters, shifting rhythmic conceptions and integrated melodic harmonic sketches. While the jazz elements of improvisation and musical communicative interplay are fully realized, the end result captures the spirit of King Crimson and Rush in a quasi-Eastern vein.

"Moonring Bacchanal," as one of many examples, is wonderful. The stark melodic contour and open harmonic scheme provide lots of room for all three artists to add not just their own colors, but their own propulsive conception to the tune's direction. The shifting time feels of the sectional outline also creates maximum diversity within a single framework.

The recording’s most overtly rock influenced tune, "Cumin," opens with a guitar hard-scrabble thickly-voiced chordal riff that gives way brilliant single solo lines from Fuze that focuses less on his brilliant technical prowess in favor of his singular vision for singing lines. Jim Funnell’s electric keyboard solo builds masterfully from a motive first introduced by Fuze into a kaleidoscope of shifting block chordal progressions. Nikolay Moiseenko’s alto sax, while not brought to the fore, imbues the track with its own rich tumbrel contrast making this seven plus minute performance the highlight of the disc.

Throughout the artists are not only respectful of Fuze’s rock oriented compositions, but also of supplying him with a bounty of riches which allow him to move in the offbeat directions his musical mind normally flows. Jenkins’ lines tend towards understatement and precise articulative definition while Warner’s playing is heavy on the backbeats with propulsively accented snare work. This disc is a solidly creative effort that will appeal to long time fans, as well as to some of those guitarists looking for new influences.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: David Fiuczynski
  • CD Title: Kif Express
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Fuze Records
  • Tracks: Shiraz, Moonring Bacchanal, Sakura - Ying Hua, Cumin, Habibi Bounce, Fung Wah Express, Arcadia Finlandis, Phoenix Rising, Almond Pear, Ek Balaam and Sakalahachi
  • Rating: Three Stars
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