Anatholi Bulkin is a 33-year-old Swedish guitarist who has obviously dissected the work of Pat Metheny, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, and other fusion guitar giants. While he's clearly influenced by his fusion forebears, Bulkin is an impressive player in his own right who's just beginning to forge an individual style.
Trio albums force young jazzers to let all of the tricks out of the bag, and Anatholi shows he has chops to spare on Initiation. Accompanied by the Jaco-influenced Jonas Reingold on bass and the capable Anders Hentze on skins, Bulkin leads the way though an impressive set of 12 heady tunes. Throughout this collection, the guitarist executes lightning-fast lines, melodic Metheny-like changes, and free twisting solos the man has clearly spent many hours honing his chops.
The fastest of Bulkhin’s original compositions each centers around a dense melodic phrase that unravels and gradually reassembles. The modal foundations at the core of some of these tunes bring to mind Robert Fripp in his League of Gentlemen mode. But unlike Fripp, Bulkhin’s extended solos reflect the mind of a creative jazzman. At times he tries a little too hard to dazzle, but most of these cuts are cohesive creations. Bulkin can also play it pretty if the tune so demands.
The best cuts include two mellow Metheny-like numbers (the beautiful acoustic "Folksong" and the heartland melody "Mr. & Mrs. America"), a bluesy-funky march entitled "The Underdog," and the rhythmic "Tripitaka," which features the leader on guitar-synth.
Initiation should compel fusion fans to check out Bulkin’s previous two albums with his nine-piece Brazilian-influenced group and his world/funk ensemble.. Here’s a link to Bulkin's Web site where you can learn more about the man and his music.