All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

411

Gary Willis: Actual Fiction

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
One might be forgiven for thinking that bassist extraordinaire Gary Willis has the titles of the first two songs on Actual Fiction the wrong way round. "Cartoon Fetish is a slightly frantic drum 'n' bass rave with a Prodigy-like bullishness that would be ideal to rock a party and rattle your neighbors' windows. The wonderfully titled "Smells Like a Party is an irresistible piece of head-bobbing funk of the type Prince cooks up, and would make a great soundtrack for a cartoon.

Whatever the titles, the music on Actual Fiction certainly transports the listener to some interesting places. "PodCast starts life as a gently trippy number which Willis turns on its head with a prodigious solo, ably supported by David Gomez on drums. Willis employs spacey effects quite liberally throughout the album, though when the music is reduced to drums and bass and stripped of these layers the bass really rips.

Willis' bass playing is pretty staggering throughout Actual Fiction, no more so than on the beautiful slow number "Say Never, where the bass lines are as smooth and rich as hot chocolate and as ethereal as a walk in the clouds. Willis takes the solo up to racing speed but without disturbing the chill-out ambience of a track which has the feel of Joni Mitchell's title tune from Hejira (Asylum, 1976).

The great bassist Jaco Pastorius graced Mitchell's album and his spirit is infused in no small measure through much of the music on Actual Fiction. Willis' playing on "Eye Candy recalls vividly Pastorius on Weather Report's Black Market (Columbia/Legacy, 1976), and his style in general owes much to the hugely influential Pennsylvania-born bassist. It is also fair to say that Willis' playing on this album hails from the same planet as Pastorius: not of this world.

Impressive, too, is the way Willis subtly shifts the mood of a song by altering the weight and pace of the rhythm as on "Take Me to Your Leader, where the intensity rises and falls in large, slow-building waves. The contribution of drummers David Gomez and Kirk Covington is considerable, and it is easy to forget that there is ever only one other musician accompanying Willis.

There is much to enjoy on Actual Fiction: strong compositions which sound radically different from each other, smoking funk riffs, a lot of energy and quite marvelous bass playing. Following the excellent Slaughterhouse 3 (Abstract Logix, 2007) it appears that Willis is in a rich vein of form. Here, Gary Willis has crafted an adventurous album and a very fine one at that.


Track Listing: Cartoon Fetish; Smells Like a Party; PodCast; Say Never; Eye Candy; Take Me to Your Leader; Mean Streak; If Only It Could Talk; Tio Loco; Based on a True Story.

Personnel: Gary Willis: electric bass, sound effects, "everything else"; David Gomez: drums (3, 7); Kirk Covington: drums (1, 2, 5, 9, 10).

Title: Actual Fiction | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Shaman

Two for the Show Media
2009

buy
Actual Fiction

Actual Fiction

Abstract Logix
2007

buy
 

Bent

Alchemy Records
1999

buy
 

Bent

Double Moon Records
1998

buy

Related Articles

Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Plus One CD/LP/Track Review
Plus One
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read "Return To Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Return To Mind
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 8, 2018
Read "A Sky You Could Strike a Match On" CD/LP/Track Review A Sky You Could Strike a Match On
by Patrick Burnette
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Schlitten" CD/LP/Track Review Schlitten
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Leading The British Invasion" CD/LP/Track Review Leading The British Invasion
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 31, 2017
Read "Words And Music" CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017