In his acclaimed bass camps, Vic Wooten counsels his students that the spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves. Greg Howe doesn’t seem to have taken that lesson to heart, considering the number of notes per second on this release. Extraction is just about evenly divided between well-crafted, thoughtful compositions and dead-end chops demonstrations. Whether the ratio is worthwhile is up to the individual listener.
The pedigrees of these musicians are unquestionably solid. Right off the bat we’re treated to a powerful Chambers drum solo on the title track, which then settles into a 16th-note melody line so typical of modern fusion. “Tease” is exceptionally entertaining, each performer coming up with an endless series of creative ideas. But the next track, “Crack It Way Open,” is pretty much inconsequential filler, the kind of aimless noodling that almost put fusion in its grave a decade ago. The tracks keep alternating thusly between promise and pap.
When Howe picks up the acoustic guitar things get a bit more interesting, yet he still tries to say too much at times. Wooten adds some marvelous runs and his fretless playing is as fine as always but he, too, tends to fall into the 16th-note babble pattern. Chambers, for his part, bubbles and swells appropriately on each tune; it’s a shame he doesn’t have more to support. Keyboardist Dave Cook’s pads and lines help to keep things on track, and he is a respectable soloist. Extraction does have its moments, but it’s not the most wisely considered entry in anyone’s catalog here.
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