Jeff Richman's latest release Hotwire.

Album Review: Hotwire by Jeff Richman

 

Jeff Richman's latest release Hotwire.

Jeff Richman’s latest release Hotwire packs some funky punches but also contains restrained, ballad-like pieces of fusion.

As soon as the sprightly melody of “Hit Spot,” the first track of Jeff Richman’s latest album, emerges with electrifying excitement, you might expect a great jazz-rock fusion album that updates the genre from the early days of Miles and Zappa. The punching vamp reminds me specifically of Miles’s Tribute to Jack Johnson, reaching out with palpable spunk; but a gentle atmosphere still invites us, the listeners, in. But this is the most psychedelic or near psychedelic the album gets. Following the flight of “Hit Spot,” we land on the ground for a funky jam called “Seven Up.” It is a great start to an album that jams, grooves, flies, and ruminates.

Richman polished a funk-rock-jazz gem in “Oh, Yeah?” The hybrid nature of this song reflects the general album: plenty of wandering, hints of fury, and plenty of joy. This song sounds like a great jam edited down to the best parts. Elements of traditional jazz pop up in a few songs, but last only until Richman steps in with his guitar, a dominant feature of the entire slickly-produced album. That’s one gripe I have: a little more dissonance or wah-wah would have endeared this album more to youngsters. The first track on the album suggests a fairly brave, bold fusion but by the third track, it’s clear that this is not teenage angst-ridden jazz fusion. This is the kind you could drive with and zone out with pleasantly.

Jeff Richman’s fusion brews elements of music that are not threatening: rock guitar, funky bass lines, grooves with calm piano intros and new-age guitar-vocal harmony vamps. The stylish guitar soloing on the album is sublime and soaring at points, unimaginative and too restrained at others. One song, “Little Waves,” fits its title so well that you can imagine a bird’s eye view of a drive down Highway 1 with foam-crested blue massaging the cliffs. The enjoyable jams on the album make every revisit worthwhile.

a3674220719_16

Savage Reviews – “W.H.K.” Self Titled

At first glance this radio station would file the CD under K for Klink, but William H. Klink is not an individual. It is a five-man band from San Luis Obispo, California, and it is the name of their 2015 self-titled album; to be filed under W. Seventeen tracks of psych-punk with a whole lot of west coast surf vibe coming through, as well its share of lo-fi garage tracks. And, yes, there are a few tracks in the two minute range so often found in the punk genre, but this band is not afraid to riff off into a long instrumental. Check out track #4 of seven plus minutes, with an equally long name “Seabed and Dr. Chongs 4th Dimensional Transcendental Journey”. Now, it is true, I have never been sitting on a surf board stoned, watching the sets roll in, but I am sure it has happened a million times and the music of William H. Klink would be a sublime addition to such a moment; provided the right waterproof equipment was at hand. I will only give a thumbs down to track #11, “Drowning”, but so what, that leaves 16 tracks to enjoy. Besides, something always gets left behind in the wake.

Written by David Anton Savage, host of Unfiltered Camels on Mondays from 2-3 PM

photo-5-600x400

Album to Hear Now: The Epic

Millennials everywhere, beware! The word “epic” has finally found its rightful place in the modern world and it has little to do with your festival experience or favorite burrito joint. Kamasi Washington Dectet, a tight-knit jazz regiment headed by the masterful composer and saxophonist best known for his work with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, dropped their 3-disc debut The Epic (Brainfeeder Records, 2015) this Tuesday, a timely release just under two months after To Pimp a Butterfly (Interscope Records, 2015) took music media by a storm and brought jazz back into the limelight. Washington has been in the touring game since college (to wit: Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill, Raphael Saadiq, Chaka Khan), and spent much of his time back home in LA recording with ten collaborators, and with Flying Lotus’ help would record 190 songs in one month in 2011. Kamasi and his cohorts go way back, but the dectet is looking forward, combining their influences and training to put jazz on the radar for listeners across the board. Four years after the Kamasi Washington Dectet’s Silver Lake recording marathon, a short list of 17 tracks spanning three hours would be compiled and released as one of the most ambitious, genre-spanning debuts to be made this century. The music is free-flowing, expressive, evocative of jazz godheads like Trane and Sun Ra but transcending classic quotations for something near surreal — it’s skyward-looking music, it’s beyond what is now. And that, friends, is EPIC.