How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Baltimore guitarist Carl Filipiak records for his own small label, Geometric Records, which is probably the reason he’s not better known outside the Baltimore-D.C metroplex. Too bad, because the dude can really play.
Filipiak’s music is probably too brawny for the smooth jazz crowd, but hardcore fusion fans should warm up to it instantly. The guitarist displays a Methenyesque sense of melody and improvisation while infusing his jazz with elements of rock, funk, Latin and blues. His latest release Peripheral Vision offers material from all four of his previous albums, plus one new track ("Forest Flower").
The presence of Bob Berg and Dennis Chambers helps lift the recording. Chambers pounds the skins on all 11 tracks, while Berg adds his slithering sax to three cuts. On some tunes, Filipiak shifts dexterously between electric guitar, acoustic guitar and guitar synth. Besides displaying a keen sense of melody and improvisation, he occasionally cranks up the distortion and rocks out in a jazzy style reminiscent of Jeff Beck. In fact, his cover of "Cause We Ended As Lovers" is nearly as uplifting as Beck’s. Another highlight is the original composition "Nuji," a funky fusion-bop piece.
If you’re a fan of lyrical fusion guitar, you should definitely check out Carl Filipiak.