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Album Review

Bruce Bishop: A Dream Set Free


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Bruce Bishop: A Dream Set Free
Guitarist Bruce Bishop's A Dream Set Free carries a sizable impact, albeit one so understated that it is difficult to gauge how out of proportion it is in relation to its playing time of slightly over thirty-minutes. But this album also turns out to be a remarkably seamless piece of work, even with the presence of two distinct rhythm sections. No doubt producer Ben Harper had much to do with forging the continuity of these nine tracks (all composed by Bishop), as did recordist Sheldon Gomberg and mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen, but such expertise would be all for naught without a bedrock mutual empathy between the players.

A studio musician and performance artist, as well as an audio technician, not mention a teacher, Bruce Bishop has a pedigree all his own with which to complement the more high profile likes of bassist Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever, the Clarke-Duke Band) and drummer Stewart Copeland (the Police, Oysterhead). But as on "Maybe Then" and "Smokey's Song," the so-called 'Invisible guitarist' comports himself equally well and in a comparably relaxed mode with the rhythm section comprised of bassist Jesse Ingalls and drummer Jimmy Paxson. Nothing forced emanates from either trio.

On the contrary, the natural flow of the musicianship is as delectable as it is quiet. For instance, "Just Like That" is as soft and sweet to the ears as these latter two musicians' touch on their instruments. Ingalls and Paxson are no less engaged in their performances than their famous peers. The effortless strut of "Keep Runnin'" is the sound of instrumentalists in full and complete sync, while the modified blues of "Second Man," one of only two tracks here longer than four minutes, whets the appetite for more such earthy interactions between Bishop, Clarke and Copeland.

Recorded at the Carriage House in the guitarist's home state of California, A Dream Set Free came about from a chance meeting between Bishop and Harper, two musicians eager to collaborate extensively after a shorter initial session close to twenty-five years ago. The latter recruited additional like- minded individuals to aid in bringing their ambition to fruition (on his own Mad Bunny imprint), thereby setting the stage for a wide-open enterprise mirrored by this cover art. The metaphysical musings of Michael Goldman on the back sleeve only reaffirm that imagery; the verse might well depict the zen tranquility of the action as it took place during the creation of this deceptively purposeful music.

Track Listing

Out is In; Maybe Then; Just Like That; Smokey’s Song; Keep Runnin'; Second Man; Didn’t Wake Up; A Fool’s Lament; Sampled Illusions.


Bruce Bishop: guitar; Stanley Clarke: bass; Jesse Ingalls: bass; Stewart Copeland: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Jimmy Paxson: drums

Album information

Title: A Dream Set Free | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Mad Bunny

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