Van Davis: Have You Seen This Band? (2006)

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Van Davis: Have You Seen This Band?
This power trio, named after two inspirations, Van Halen and Miles Davis, seems to be having a lot of fun on Have You Seen This Band?. Fun is generally a plus; it can make bad music tolerable and good music better. Luckily, in this case, we are talking about the latter. I would add two more influences to the mix, the Flecktones and ZZ Top. The Flecktone influence is heard in guitarist Jake Ezra's arpeggios and Jon Price's thumping bass. The ZZ Top sound comes through in spirit and muscularity.

Van Davis hits the accelerator early on and never seems to slow down, except to throw in an occasional soundscape. These respites, along with other contemplative segments throughout the compositions, show that the three are quite capable of playing the mood and texture game along with the energetic stuff. This is best evidenced on "Deek, where the band runs the gamut from thick power chords to ambient noise to a funk groove, propelled by drummer Patrick Carmichael.

Ezra is an exceptional player, seemingly jumping from basic blues playing to the most intricate and forceful material imaginable. The intriguing density in his playing is more evident when you hear him play in opposition to it. He also likes to play harmonics a la Eddie Van Halen, but they are not merely parlor tricks. Whatever he asks of himself seems to always be more than we expect.

The wild card in any power trio is the bassist. Jon Price is not just here to provide an anchor, though he does that. He also plays and plays and plays. He often leads the melodic excursions and also doubles up with Ezra at breakneck speeds. The two can scorch.

Carmichael has a jamband sensibility. I don't know how to define that sensibility exactly, but I know it when I hear it. Perhaps, it's simply that the drummer adds an exclamation point to the element of fun heard on this CD. The high-caliber compositions, mostly written by Ezra, challenge the skills of the players and provide interesting melodic stories. A couple of pieces also have a Steely Dan vibe, provided by guest star keyboardist Ted Baker, who has played with Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.

This fusion is power-packed and just plain fun, and the best way to answer the question Have You Seen This Band? is in the affirmative.

Track Listing: Funkin Bumpkin; One Question At A Time; Monster Patrol; mini appleless jam; Deek; Monkey Chips; beautiful dream; Crunchy Funk; the walls are melting; Were All Human or Whatever; the walls are melting again; Augustas Ankle (live); the walls are melting (slight return); Chorale (live); Cuckoos Nest

Personnel: Jake Ezra: guitar; Patrick Carmichael: Drums; Jon Price: Bass; Guest Stars; Ted Baker: Rhodes; Alex Lacamoire: keyboards

Record Label: Beakin' Records

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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