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Chambers / Berlin / Fiuczynski / Lavitz: Boston T Party

Woodrow Wilkins By

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If quirky titles and wacky cover art were award categories, the foursome of Dennis Chambers, Jeff Berlin, Dave Fiuczynski and T Lavitz would score major honors with their new release, Boston T Party. However, those are just attention getters. The real prize is the music—quirky, wild, and most of all, fun. Some of the more interesting titles are "(Great) Ball of Issues, a humorous spin on Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire, and a pair that put a creative twist on common phrases: "Around About Way and "Foxy Morons.

Each player is an accomplished artist in his own right. Here, they come together for a fusion jam session. Drummer Dennis Chambers is known for his work with Santana, Steely Dan, P-Funk and other artists in the jazz, funk and fusion genres. Bassist Jeff Berlin has numerous recordings in his own name, but has also worked with Al DiMeola, Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham. Guitarist Dave "Fuze Fiuczynski has worked with the Screaming Headless Torsos and other progressive artists. T Lavitz, on keyboards, has worked with the Dixie Dregs, Jazz Is Dead and Widespread Panic.

Boston T Party, produced by Lavitz, provides an hour's worth of ten original songs. The quartet delivers a musical smorgasbord. There's a bit of rock, accented by jazz, fusion, funk and other assorted sounds—sometimes all within a single track. The opening track, "D'funk'd, opens like a cross between early Herbie Hancock and a time warp from a science fiction film, then cranks up into a multifaceted jam. Lavitz's keyboard solo at the two-minute mark is reminiscent of some of the classic hard rock songs of the 1970s. From there, the song strikes a delicate balance between jazz fusion and the soundtrack from one of those quirky sci-fi flicks that predate "Star Wars.

Chambers delivers some strong licks without getting in the way of his bandmates' solos. He skillfully shifts from snare to toms, keeping within the structure but at the same time playing with freedom to explore. The same can be said of all the musicians throughout the album. The group is perhaps most mellow—if it can be said they're ever mellow on this album—with the slower-paced "I Hate the Blues ... (But Here's One Anyway). Lavitz is solid on the B-3 organ. Chambers and Berlin set the pace in standard 3/4 time while Fuze takes us on a freewheeling jaunt.

The rest of the album follows the same form—which is to say, unrestrained. Even when the other musicians are playing somewhat structured rhythms in the background, Fuze just takes off with hyperdrive engines on maximum. Imagine, if you can, an electric guitar on steroids. And if the music isn't enough, there's the cover art, which depicts a giant teacup on the streets of old Boston. Floating in it are instruments, a capital "T and a drowning man. A black cat appears to be jumping from the cup, but it isn't wet. Quirky? You bet.


Track Listing: D

Personnel: T Lavitz: keyboards; David Fiuczynski: electric guitar; Jeff Berlin: electric bass; Dennis Chambers: drums.

Title: Boston T Party | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Tone Center

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