Analyzing the album - the construction of the arranges, the freschness of material, the sounds of the tunes, the power and the intensity of playing the tracks, the rhythmically intense - it has an immensely individual touch.
Like his idol, the late Joe Zawinul, keyboardist Art 'Spike' Schloemer seeks to erase whatever perceived lines lie between jazz, rock, funk and world music. On his new TransFUSION CD, Schloemer arrives well- armed for the task by enlisting some of jazz/fusion's top open-minded artists: guitarist Scott Henderson, saxophonist Bob Franceschini, bassists Bunny Brunel and Hadrien Feraud, and drummers Dennis Chambers and Kirk Covington.
The opening track, "Concussion," shows additional Schloemer influences from the classic fusion era of the '70s. The piece's epic theme, and Feraud's nimble bass line, echo the work of Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke in Return To Forever.
Brunel guests on the subsequent "Space Flight," and his liquid tone and soloing guide Schloemer's synthesizer into the soaring stratosphere of Weather Report, Zawinul's primary vessel during his stellar career. Chambers' contribution is on "Distant Horizon," another far-reaching Weather Report revisit because of his shell-game with the time signature and Schloemer's darting electric piano.
Henderson worked in Zawinul's post-Weather Report group the Zawinul Syndicate, and the guitarist's prodigious firepower burns throughout "Challenge Day." Built on another epic theme by Schloemer, the energetic track is akin to Henderson's '90s work in the band Tribal Tech (which also featured a Zawinul-influenced keyboardist in Scott Kinsey).
Covington, Tribal Tech's drummer, guests on the closing "Keep Relaxed". A high-octane funk number that belies its title, the cut gets extra fuel through the drummer's signature hummingbird-like fills. Franceschini, best-known for his work in guitarist Mike Stern's group, makes a statement through his solo on "Brain Fever," another Schloemer composition that blends jazz technique with rock intensity.
The guest stars may be the drawing card on TransFUSION, but the guest-free tracks are no less alluring. "Sentimental Journey" sounds like a trip through Zawinul's entire career through its acoustic piano, programming, and chanted vocals.
"Good Times" is a Motown-inspired funk vehicle that could've been an alternate theme to the urban '70s sitcom of the same name; "Indie Dance" manages to blend Middle Eastern and be-bop feels, and the entrancing "For Joe" is Schloemer's ode to his late mentor.
Aside from the work of his special guests, Schloemer is responsible for the entirety of TransFUSION, making the disc an otherwise incredible singular achievement. Through his compositions, arrangements, multi-instrumental playing and programming, the keyboardist always manages to sound like he's looking forward -- even as he reaches backward for inspiration.
- Bill Meredith -
"Throughout the entire disc Schloemer proves himself a more than capable composer of electric jazz at the highest level, and as a soloist he establishes himself as a thoughtful and exciting technician. Schloemer's incredibly nimble fingers fly throughout the recording, and he puts them to good use in this collection of high powered, highly percussive fusion. For those who thought great electric jazz, or tightly constructed progressive rock of the 1970s and 80s was gone forever, this disc will restore your soul."
- Thomas R. Erdmann -
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One could alternately describe these five young Canadian musicians as a New-Orleans-style brass band, a funk band, an R&B band, or simply an eclectic group who play what pleases them. They're very good, versatile musicians, with a tight, well-rehearsed sound, clearly very much into the music that they're creating. So why has it taken me so much time to warm up to their debut album?
Psychedelic pranksters M'lumbo return with the amusingly titled Celestial Ghetto. The title of the album is quite fitting as M'lumbo draw from many sources, and can alternate seamlessly between the gritty and the ethereal. With M'lumbo, there is no distinction between high and low art where refined soloing is juxtaposed against a sense of nutty humor. This might be irritating to some (why obscure a perfectly good solo with seemingly random samples?) but this recording is refreshingly free from intellectual pretenses.
Legendary Drummer Mike Clark Produces Singer Tony Adamo’s new CD By Franki LaMantia, UrbanZonePush Productions, New York City, New York
The resurgence of Mothers Favorite Child is upon us but not before its creator, Paris Toon, reintroduces himself and his “child” as only he can . . . through real, raw, MUSIC. The Paris Toon recording project, enigmatically titled, “Baptism by Fire,” is a portion of a life narrated by Mothers Favorite Child. MFC is and has always been a musical collective, whimsically constructed by intuition and nurtured by divine talent. This is a movement on a mission to expose truth in sounds and words. TRUTH - minor and major, raucous and romantic, soulful and . . . spiritual.
The resurgence of Mothers Favorite Child is upon us but not before its creator, Paris Toon, reintroduces himself and his “child” as only he can . . . through real, raw, MUSIC. The Paris Toon recording project, enigmatically titled, “Baptism by Fire,” is a portion of a life narrated by Mothers Favorite Child. MFC is and has always been a musical collective, whimsically constructed by intuition and nurtured by divine talent. This is a movement on a mission to expose truth in sounds and words. TRUTH - minor and major, raucous and romantic, soulful and . . . spiritual. The man behind the music is Paris Toon, producer, lyricist, composer and driving force of all that he engages in. Paris ritualistically defaults to his “gut” when the time comes to gather musicians and give birth to new songs.
A contemporary jazz giant whose power and passion have made the soulful saxophonist into one of the genre’s most consistent chart-toppers in the 25 years since he released his solo debut, Richard Elliot salutes the instrumental jazz-funk legends from his formative years in the 1970s & 80s that influenced his brand of music on In The Zone, which was released today by Artistry Music (Mack Avenue Records). Elliot wrote and produced his 16th solo album with fusion pioneer Jeff Lorber.
Besides his stature within New York City's enigmatic downtown scene, trumpeter Steven Bernstein's varied resume includes writing and performances with rock and pop legends. Therefore, he possesses an insider and outsider type view, also evidenced by his leadership with the band Sex Mob, known for nicely twisted, reconstructed, and off-kilter covers of famous rock and pop tunes. Here, Bernstein and a large ensemble, including re-mix master Bill Laswell, keyboardist Bernie Worrell and guitarist Vernon Reid loom as vital cogs in the wheel of success, extended across the music of pop-funk icon Sly Stone.
Vocalist Tony Adamo’s new CD, What Is Hip?, is a funkified and deeply rhythmic locked affair with some of the best musicians of the day. Put together by master guitarist and producer Jerry Stucker, this horn-laden album reminds one of the early days of Tower Of Power (TOP) brought up to date by modern sensibilities. Some of the big names assisting Adamo include master drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist and Headhunter Bill Summers, trumpeters Mic Gillette, Henry Hung, and Eddie Henderson, as well as TOP bari saxophone soul man Stephen “Doc” Kupka and keyboardist Rodney Franklin.