Fusion guitarist Jake Hertzog has his own style of playing, his own way of harmonizing and, I dare to say, showboating. By showboating, I mean he knows how to make waves and surging projectiles so he does them. He holds back nothing and delivers everything that he has. He has a way of making his guitar sing with a voluminous radiance and the dazzling frills relatable to opera singer Renee Fleming. Not to infer that his music in any way, shape or form sounds like an opera, but he certainly displays the disciplined instincts and melodic sensibilities of an opera singer. From the winded psychedelic furls of "California Hills" to the soft, lush escapes of "Lullaby For A Dreamer," Hertzog takes a trip around a wide spectrum of fusion-imbued melodies on his latest release Chromatosphere from That’s Out Records.
Produced by Joshua Paul Thompson and featuring Michael Wolfe on piano, Harvie S on electric and acoustic bass and Victor Jones on drums, Chromatosphere is a flowing stream that continuously goes up the chromatic scale, holding the listener on an elevated plane of contentment. Hertzog exchanges with bassist Harvie S on "In Your Own Sweet Way" are creative and liberally splayed projecting an animated dialogue between the two that appeals to the listener’s higher senses.
The music has a cerebral-bent like it was designed to entertain and enlighten the mind. The dazzling squiggles and ascents along "Monkey Stuff" are mind-blowing and the rapturous swirls and neon-glowing hues of "Almost Like Being In Love" are intricately woven demonstrating the dexterity and complexity of Hertzog’s movements. "Nectarine" takes the album into more conventional fusion designs akin to Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery.
Many of Hertzog’s guitar lines seem like they came to him from the top of his head while he immerses himself in the moment of harmonizing with the other musicians. His compositions seem spawned from visions in his imagination, but not of picturesque vistas, more like neon-lit helixes and complex molecular structures continually shape-shifting. If there is such a genre as trippy jazz, Hertzog would be its forerunner because that is what he makes. His concoctions relate to an otherworldly plane that infests and stimulates the nerve endings of the mind. There is nothing else like it.
Chromatosphere shows Jake Hertzog to be a risk-taker and a mind-blowing guitarist. He is a guitarist’s guitarist. A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and a recipient of the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival’s Grand Prize in the Jazz Guitar Competition, Hertzog is off to an impressive start. Hertzog has a steady gig as a member of The Naked Brothers Band, who have performed on a number of television shows including ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today and Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards.
It’s evident that in a relatively short amount of time, Hertzog has moved deeper into his solo profession and carved out his own path. Chromatosphere allows him to make a name for himself, deserving the recognition and respectability that other prominent fusion guitarists enjoy. It seems like this is Jake Hertzog’s destiny, like the choice has already been made by a higher being who won’t take "No" for an answer.