Some Reviews of the J.A.M. CD:
Finally, a collaborative instrumental album to get genuinely
excited about, and get this...it isn't a tribute CD!
Over the last two years, Liquid Note Records has produced three
of the most talked about guitar driven releases since the slow
death of Shrapnel. JAM, a 'project album' is yet another solid
step forward in the direction of six string nirvana by bringing
together three of today's hottest guitarists; Joel Rivard, Alessandro
Benvenuti and Milan Polak.
Each player contributes three original tracks showcasing their
own distinctive voice; Benvenuti provides the modern fusion licks
and beefy lead tones, Polak the odd time grooves and fired up
shred, whilst newcomer (at least to me) Joel Rivard creates lines
of sumptuous Jazziness. The results are surprising, face melting
and atmospheric in equal measure. LNR house keys man Lale Larson
also appears, knocking out a few killer solos and generally fattening
up the sound.
The Usual Unusual opens the sticky lid on JAM, with Polak and
(co writer) Bernd Fuxa spreading a tight and catchy angular groove
over some seriously tasty guitar work. This tune is dedicated
to the sorely missed Shawn Lane and comes across very reminiscent
of the big mans penchant for progressive arrangements and state
of the art solos.
2 Sides Of The Same Trouble opens the set for Italian Fusion
ace Alessandro Benvenuti. The clean, almost blues intro immediately
hooks the listener as Benvenuti seamlessly morphs the raw beginning
into a searing melodic fusion. There are simply to many knockout
moments of guitar playing on this tune to mention in full, suffice
to say it does exactly what all good instrumental music should
do...make you pick up yer guitar!
Joel Rivard is a new name to me, but on the strength of the
material found on JAM, Rivard may be the find of the year! Equal
parts Johnson and Satch, (and a smattering of Lane) Rivard demonstrates
an unbelievable sense of melody that enchants as much as it inspires.
His burning fretwork on Lydian Field and Transcendence are highlights
of the album, though some may find his compositional style to
be a touch too familiar.
The chemistry and interplay between Rivard, Benvenuti, Polak
and Larson throughout JAM is terrific, especially considering
the international mileage these tracks must have undertaken to
reach completion. The diverse styles also add a great deal of
listener interest, moving gracefully from Fusion, Shred, Rock
and even Ballad. In fact, my favorite part of JAM is the versatility
each player shows when negotiating different musical situations,
all excel themselves with dynamism and flair.
Other highlights include Benvenuti's technical yet beautiful
'Hot Room', which features plenty of challenging lead lines and
superior clean jazz phrasing from Rivard, and Polak's foot stomping
shred delight - Back on the Track.
A final mention must go to JAM's cover artwork. A closer look
reveals the creepiest use of digital baby imagery since the dancing
freak that adorned many screensavers a few years back. The dancing
baby has grown up, mutated, and Matt Willams has taught him shred
Grab a copy from www.liquidnoterecords.co.uk
J.A.M. is the latest release from UK based label Liquid
Note Music. Despite being a relatively new indie label they have
so far got a reputation (at least from virtuosity one!) of releasing
quality guitar instrumental albums, J.A.M. is no exception to
this trend I am pleased to report.
Touching on equal parts rock, jazz, blues and funk this
is 9 tracks full of great guitar work from Joel Rivard, Aleesandro
Benvenuti and Milan Polak - who if I am being perfectly honest
I had never heard of before this release! Does this matter? Well
no as J.A.M. is full of great grooves, solos that are suited to
the track rather than the soloist desire to show his bag of tricks.
Despite mentioning the words funk and jazz above rest assured
guitar fans that this more along the lines of those genres that
Satriani or Greg Howe would dish out.
What I particularly like is that each guitarist generally
has his own style and does not try to outflash the previous solo.
Joel Rivards work brings to mind that of Shawn Lane and Satriani,
mostly due to his silky smooth legato technique. Milan Polak's
approach is also home to a strong legato technique but with a
little more shred in him, which leaves Alessandro Benvenuti in
whom I hear comparisons with Greg Howe and a little Allan Holdsworth.
These 3 style merge extremely well and add a nice dose of originality
to the album.
The Usual Unusual opens the album with a mono sounding classic
jazz swing vibe before kicked into a monster groove and a big
loud and proud production. This track is dedicated to the memory
of Shawn Lane and is home to great melodies that set the standard
for the rest of the album. 2 Sides Of The Same Trouble
is a superb example of the interplay between the 3 guitarists.
Lydian Field is quite excellent with an extremely strong
structure and melody, again quite Satriani and has a cool outro
vamp based on the lydian scale which brings about the song title,
8 mins of pure class.
Hot Room is jazz fusion done Allan Holdsworth style, superb
playing throughout. Back On The Track is home to a great
groove and some of the flashiest playing on the album. Transcendence
has an uplifiting vibe that is quite Eric Johnson sounding to
these ears. The track features a lot of use of the mixolydian
mode which probably explains the Johnson vibes, probably my favourite
cut on the album. S.L.O.W. is much more ethereal at the
start with some female mood vocals before leading into some pretty
smoking soloing from Alessandro Benvenuti. Perfect Angel
is based around a rather simple melody that evolves as the track
progresses, the production here is especially strong. General
Relativity Jam closes the album, sadly I do not feels its quite
up with the quality elsewhere as its as the name suggests more
Jamming bases and occassionally does loose a little focus.
J.A.M. have chalked up a victory in the instrumental releases
of 2004 category. Great playing within classic strong structures
and home to an ace production for this genre. Whilst not breaking
any new ground in the instrumental guitar field, J.A.M. does provide
an hours worth of exciting and captivating guitar work and for
that reason alone comes highly recommended.
Hot Spots: Lydian Field, Back On The Track, Transcendence.
Matt Williams is steadily bringing some great new fusion music
to the more extreme side of the genre through his Liquid Note
label, he has a nice stable of talented musicians to work with,
and each cd I have had the pleasure of hearing is yet another
ear popping adventure in the heavy instrumental world of technical
and dazzling musicianship. His label provdes an outlet for artists
that not only are world class musicians, but artistst that have
the freedom to write highly challenging progressive instrumental
music. Funny, this description describes my personal preferences
in music, and he has a label doing just that, Finally! I know
there are others out there that have the same tastes in music,
so this is a heads up, go to the Liquid Note site (link provided
in artists page here), and check out everything going on there,
you won't be disappointed.
J.A.M. is an interesting little slice of fusion, interesting
in that it is a compilation of 9 songs, divided into three individual
groups, each group provides 3 songs to the cd, and these groups
are led by different guitarists, so it's almost a sampler cd of
these musicians so to speak. Yet given the fact that the guitarists
are all writing intensely motivated music, the cd flows together
well. First you have Milan Polak, who has been making a name for
himself for his solo efforts as a shred style musician, he plays
some very intricate songs on this cd, showing excellent flair
for technical arrangements that fully compliment his amazing playing.
Alessandro Benvenuti, who's cd Sonic Design is reviewed
here at Proggnosis, plays in the style of Greg Howe ultra
fluid playing that accompanies complex arrangements, a perfect
marriage of power and beauty go hand in hand on his three contributions
with J.A.M. Joel Rivard is the one guitarist here that I am not
familiar with, but he is in good company here, from what I can
tell you, he has a very nimble style that reminds me a LOT of
the great Shawn Lane, and plays with the same tasteful expression
and freedom the Shawn did.
So there you have a brief summary of what J.A.M. offers,
so all of you instrumental/progressive/heavy/technical music fans
should get over to Matt's website, and get hold of some of these
new creations, and give him more motivation to keep the music
New England Demo Sampler: "*Joel Rivard - Listen up
all ye guitar players. I predict (are you ready?) this guy's
gonna make some waves. It's 8-track, home demo stuff of the finest
guitar playing I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing. A ten."
New England Performer, November 1994
Doug's Top 5 for February 1996: "Guitarist, Joel Rivard
and bassist, Marc Respass display an astounding command of their
instruments as they blow these ten tunes past the listener like
a Concorde jet. Joel's technical prowess rivals that of Steve
Vai while Respass' bass playing could stand up to anything Stanley
Clarke or Stuart Hamm could muster. The songwriting is also very
strong and highlights a fine command of arranging skills. A 24-track
studio would open up a whole world of possibilities to musicians
of this caliber. Any spec deals ou there?" HEARINGS, Feb,
Spotlight: "Proficient at neo-classical sweep runs,
chord-melody jazz, chicken-pickin' country, and modern blues
lead, 26 year old Joel Rivard is a technically awesome jack-of-all-licks
with clear nods to Shaun Lane's linear cascades, Eric Johnson's
violiny melodies, and flatpicking's fiery fusilades. The Bostonian's
playing is certainly impressive, maybe even virtuosic-no wonder
he's won or placed high in several guitar competitions-but when
he stops hyping the tempo on is material so much, he'll be a
much more savvy, enjoyable musician. Slow down, for God's sake!--it's
not a race (or is it?). Rivard has dug into transcriptions of
everyone from Van Halen to Bensusan and he's been featured on
the Legato Guitar on the Edge #5 compilation." Guitar
Player, March 1998
/ Listen /Booking /Biography / Influences / Reviews / Lessons / Photos /
MusicThe Major Scale
Diatonic Chord Theory
Make Money OnlineSetting Up A E-Business
The Top Money Making Products
The Rich Jerk
Metaphysics, Science, Spirituality