Antoine Fafard: Occultus Tramitis (2013)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
An unanticipated surprise in the form of a new album is always welcome. And the star-studded cast of jazz, jazz fusion and progressive rock performers here is somewhat of an eye-opener, especially when considering that UK bassist Antoine Fafard (Spaced Out) is not a household name in the US. Gathering a supporting cast of this stature is no easy task. But, simply put, Fafard is a killer bassist, possessing gargantuan chops and an impressive compositional pen. With violinist Jerry Goodman of Mahavishnu Orchestra fame appearing on half the tracks and residing as the primary melodic catalyst, Fafard employs all-universe drummers Dave Weckl, Simon Phillips, Chad Wackerman, Terry Bozzio, and Gavin Harrison. It's a justifiable tactic, since gifted bassists deserve to perform with their peers to maximize the rhythmic component.
The pristine audio sound is an added ingredient that underscores a very detailed and capacious soundscape. Otherwise, the album presents a varied track mix, whether its guitar hero Scott Henderson's roaring riffs on "The Chamber," featuring Weckl's super-speed polyrhythmic drum solo or "Holding Back Time," comprised of difficult time signatures, blazing unison runs and Goodman's soaring notes. Here, the musicians yield foreboding implications and an invigorating dynamic.
Fafard overlays classical and electric guitar on several tracks, while showing complete command of the electric bass via glimmering runs, corpulent bottoms or when harmonizing with Goodman or the lead guitarists. He kindles remembrances of Jaco Pastorius on the trio piece "Funkevil," where he pumps and thumps through intricate maneuvers, supporting Goodman's torrid wah-wah induced solo and Martin Maheux's zesty drumming.
Fafard takes a giant leap on to the jazz fusion vista, bearing numerous rewarding factors on this high quality effort.
Track Listing: Peace for 4; The Chamber; Good Reasons; Sum of Six; Holding Back Time; Fur & Axe; Funkevil; Tree O; Slydian; Metamorphosis; Prelude to No. 2 in C Minor.
Personnel: Antoine Fafard: bass, classical guitar and electric guitar; Scott Henderson: guitar (2); Jerry Goodman: violin (1, 3, 5-7, 10); Jean-Pierre Zanella: saxophone (3); Jerry De Villiers Jr.: saxophone and flute (4, 5); Sylvain Bolduc: bass (8); Denis Labrosse: bass (8); George Hayes: electric guitar (9); Gavin Harrison: drums (1); Dave Weckl: drums (2); Simon Phillips: drums (3); Chad Wackerman: drums (4, 6); Terry Bozzio: drums (5); Martin Maheux: drums (7); Emmanuelle Caplette: drums (8); Magella Cornier: drums (9, 10).
Record Label: Unicorn Records