Tony McAlpine, Bunny Brunel, Dennis Chambers: Cab
Remember that old Star Trek episode where an alien race is able to move around the Enterprise at an infinitely quicker pace than Kirk and company? Listening to Cab, you might wonder whether Tony MacAlpine, Bunny Brunel and Dennis Chambers aren’t members of that same alien race. This trio spawns a turbo-charged blend of jazz and rock guaranteed to rattle windows and wake the sleeping.
Fusion fans know Dennis Chambers as one of the most powerful and precise drummers in contemporary music. French bassist Bunny Brunel is best known for his work with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. The name Tony MacAlpine might be less familiar to jazz fans. A classically trained musician who first learned piano and violin, MacAlpine has toiled for 15 years as a progressive metal guitarist often compared to Yngwie Malmsteen. MacAlpine plays both guitar and keys on this album.
Cab is a high-octane fusion release chock full of lightning-fast exchanges and unthinkable improvisations. Brunel and Chambers are dynamic together, and MacAlpine is a wildman guitarist. Though I could do without some of MacAlpine’s synthesized keyboard solos, the tunes provide an interesting framework for the players fiery improvisations.
Five tracks were penned by Brunel, two by Brunel in partnership with Japanese guitarist Kazumi Watanabe, and three by MacAlpine. (Watanabe does not play on the album.) All 10 tracks are good, but three of Brunel’s compositions stand out for me. "Night Splash" is complex, fast-moving piece with a Latin feel that includes brief solos by all three players, including an amazing machine-gun run by Chambers. "One for Stern" is a bluesy fusion number with Brunel on both fretless and piccolo basses and Brian Auger sitting in on organ. "Bernard" is a stirring number co-written by Brunel and Watanabe that showcases Brunel on five-string piccolo synth bass.
Listening to Cab is a bit like being chased by bulls through the streets of Pamplona for 50-plus minutes. You might wish for a slow interlude just to catch your breath, but you’ll feel exhilarated.