Jimmy Herring: Subject to Change Without Notice
Subject to Change Without Notice
With his first record since his stunning 2008 debut as a leader, Lifeboat (Abstract Logix), guitarist Jimmy Herring capitalizes on that album's strengths and ups the ante even further on Subject to Change Without Notice, featuring a core group of players with all the chemistry he needs, and some high-powered guest artists to ratchet things up even further.
By Alan Bryson
My favorite groups and albums often have this in common: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Jimmy Herring's Subject To Change Without Notice has that quality. Its eclectic blending of styles, moods, and tempos achieves an organic, yet ever changing soundscape for Herring's dazzling guitar skills, and an ideal backdrop for him and producer John Keane to showcase the talents of his band and the stellar performances of guest stars: Nicky Sanders (fiddle/violin), Bela Fleck (banjo), and Bill Evans (saxophone) (saxophone).
His guitar swings melodically on "Red Line Special," it sings gospel on "Aberdeen," it channels Little Walter's blues harp on "Kaleidoscope Carousel"; there's chicken pickin' along with soft acoustic, funk, and lightening fast duets with a Hammond B3. This is an album that keeps me coming back for more, and eager to discover what his musical future holds.
A definite progression over Jimmy Herring's derivative debut, his second solo confirms he thrives in a collaborative atmosphere the likes of which he's previously excelled with Phil Lesh & Friends and Widespread Panic among others.
Various guests, including banjo master Bela Fleck on "Curfew," participate in tracks that vary from the romp that is "Red Wing Special" to the semi-grandeur of "Kaleidoscope Carousel," during many of which find electric textures coexisting with acoustic timbres. Besides composing the bulk of the material, Herring fully participates but declines to hog the spotlight; his humility may be his greatest asset, apart from his lightning touch.
While more than one moment here calls to mind that greatest of idiosyncratic guitar heroes, Jeff Beck, that British icon would do well to produce an album as neatly tailored to his skills as this is to Herring's.
Jimmy Herring covers everything here. A Klezmer-Cowboy Le Hot Club soundtrack on "Red Wing Special," this music is not simply eclectic, it is an international incident. Bassist Neil Fountain calls this music "Science and Barbecue" because it is as technical as it is earthy.
It is also a polyglot of styles. "Curfew" is a Texas-Swing High-Lonesome Bluegrass-Country tune with banjoist Béla Fleck, but that ain't nothin' but a Saturday Night Fish Fry, while Herring's slide guitar shows traces of Duane Allman and Derek Trucks on "Kaleidoscope Carousel." The guitarist goes to church on the waltzing "Aberdeen," and to the roadhouse on "Bilgewater Blues," while Herring's "Redneck Jazz" emerges on "12 Keys." The best thing about Herring is that he has no influences. Instead, he is a sonic mirror, reflecting everything he has ever heard, but refining its shine.
Tracks: Red Wing Special: Kaleidoscope Carousel: Aberdeen: Within You Without You; Miss Poopie; Emerald Garden; 12 Keys;Hope; Curfew; Bilgewater Blues.
Personnel: Jimmy Herring: guitars; Jeff Sipe: drums; Tyler Greenwell: drums; Matt Slocum: keyboards; Neal Fountain: bass; Etienne M'bappe: bass; Bill Evans: saxophones; Béla Fleck: banjo; Nicky Sanders: violin; John Keane: pedal steel; Carter Herring: cello; Ike Stubblefield: Hammond B-3 organ.