Reviews roundup ~ Wingfield Chapman Adewale ~ Carl Verheyen ~ Gerald Gradwohl Group ~ Mick Paul
WINGFIELD CHAPMAN ADEWALE
Classical harpsichord enhanced classical meets free jazz / fusion! That’s a new one on me.
But it’s not really a surprise considering the many avenues guitarist Mark Wingfield can be found wandering down. He’s certainly kept himself busy during the batpox plague times in all sorts of formations including collaborations with Markus Reuter, Gary Husband and more, alongside his own band work. This one sees him teaming up with harpsichordist (yes, really) Jane Chapman and percussionist Adriano Adewale.
He’s got form with Ms Chapman having performed live and in the studio together but Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale is a new one to me. Although who’s got the time to read all the liner notes on every record. Well, me actually. Ms Chapman is professor of harpsichord at the Royal College of Music as well as being a well known composer and performer. In harpsichord circles.
And this is interesting. I say interesting because to my ears there is a lot of discord in the music. It’s very unsettling in places. Mr Wingfield plays immaculate guitar as always so it’s the harpsichord that really grabs your attention. As it’s not something you often hear in the world of fusion the bright tones really stand out. The percussion, in general, is fairly muted in comparison, painting colours and filling in spaces. But it’s really well done. There are a lot of nods to the world of the baroque with two compositions rearrangements of 18th century pieces. But most of the material has flowed from Mr Wingfield who remains at the top of his field.
I can’t say it’s a record I’m going to return to a lot but I’m glad I got the chance to hear it.
No video so here’s an oldie featuring Wingfield & Chapman
The last time I encountered Mr Verheyen was way back in his “Mustang Run” days. I really enjoyed it as he got his seventies Mahavishnu fusion on.
For those who don’t know he’s probably best known for his lengthy stint in the post Hodgson Supertramp starting in the eighties and running on and off through to their final tour in 2015. This release sees him more in a pop / rock mode although there are still nods to the fusion sound I enjoyed so much especially on the joyous instrumental ‘Kaningie’. But some of the songs just don’t work for me. The cover of ‘People Got to be Free’, originally by The Rascals is a definite no-no and he doesn’t really have a strong enough voice for a ballad like ‘No Time For A Kiss’ which is a really good song crying out for Seal to sing it.
But the guitar work is exemplary with funky highlights like ‘Clawhammer Man’ and some great Santana like grooves running through a lot of the material. It’s good that he’s still trying out new things after all this time but “Sundial” finds things a bit too inconsistent.
GERALD GRADWOHL GROUP
I’m delighted to realise that this is the sixth album from the Gerald Gradwohl Group and not an album of Episode Six cover versions. That was a tremendous relief to me and a handy in joke for any passing Deep Purple fans.
So who the heck is Gerald Gradwohl. Turns out he’s an Austrian guitarist who teeters on the edge between jazz fusion and shredding. WIth added saxophone. Which sounds like a verra interesting place to be. And it is. His official bio states without a hint of irony that “with no doubt Gerald Gradwohl is one of the hippest musicians in the Austrian studio and live scene”. That’s some claim although I am no expert on the general hipness or otherwise of Austrian musicians. But he certainly knows how to jam up a storm. After a brief intro they launch into ‘Let’s Talk’ which is an absolute barnstormer of a tune. Or should I say “TUNE”!
There are shades of Malmsteen and Eddie VH in some of his solos but the tenor sax and rhythm section keep things firmly in jazz fusion mode. It’s a delightful mix although I reckon some of the more hardline jazz fusion fans will be tutting and muttering into their Ottakringers. However, those of us who like some steel in their music will ignore them and jump on board the vibe. It’s all instrumental which can sometimes be a bit of a grind especially with six of the tracks over seven minutes long. But the 50 or so minutes just flashed by on a wave of pleasure.
It’s not all pedal to the metal as ‘Longing For Home’ demonstrates, and they even take a peek into the world of smooth jazz on ‘The Essence Of Time’. But when the whole band kicks out the jams on the harder tunes then it’s an absolute delight. Buy!
Mick Paul has been playing bass professionally since the seventies, in bands on sessions and having some success as a songwriter. He joined ex King Crimson fella David Cross’s band in 1995 and reckons that’s when he realised that he belonged in the world of prog.
That was over 25 years ago and he’s finally got round to releasing a solo album. Took yer time m8. Although it was when he found himself writing some very personal material around the time of the David Cross / David Jackson album “Another Day” in 2015 that he actually felt there was a solo album in there. So we’ll give him some slack.
It still comes as no surprise though to learn that a lot of the melodic prog on offer here could easily have sat on a David Cross band album. Add in the fact that most of the vocals are from DCB singer Jinian Wilde and that there are guest appearances from Cross himself, DCB drummer Steve Roberts as well as David Jackson (Van Der Graaf Generator) and Craig Blundell and it’s not a huge surprise.
Luckily, I’ve enjoyed a lot of the David Cross Band albums over the years so this was an enjoyable listen. It’s proper prog and there aren’t any duff tracks on offer. The violin enhanced ‘No Horizon’ is a highlight as are the closing combo of ‘Consigned To Reality’ and ‘Morning Skyline’. The music mainly falls into the melodic prog bracket and, bar the opening track, hover around the 4/5 minute mark. There are some jazz type guitar lines which show that Mick Paul is also a very able guitarist as he plays 90% of the guitar here. It’s been a while since the last DCB album and fans looking for a fix should grab onto this.
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