Let's face it, if you're an electric guitarist with high-level jazz fusion chops, there are certain inevitabilities. Merely treading (or in this case stomping) through the stylistic domains of Tribal Tech
, Allan Holdsworth
, The Chick Corea
Elektric Band and the like means stepping into the quicksand of comparison to such behemoths of the genre, so one had better come prepared. With his latest offering Fictional Characters
, guitarist Scott Jones does not shrink from those comparisons; he in fact stands up nicely to them.
Although Jones' chosen sonic path may be reminiscent enough of well-worn fusion territory to elicit some initial skepticism, it's evident not long into the proceedings that his talents as player, composer and arranger well exceed the strata of the merely good for an earned place among the exceptional. This reading is seconded by the presence of players on Fictional Characters
whose reputations were made while backing some of those aforementioned behemoths keyboardist Steve Hunt
(Allan Holdsworth, Stanley Clarke
), bassist Romain Labaye
, Nguyen Le
) and drummer Archibald Ligonnière
(Scott Henderson, Richard Bona
). The fact that Jones can handily contend with this pack (and even run ahead of it at times) says most of what one needs to know.
In addition to his own compositions giving him and his capable bandmates challenging opportunities to shine (and they do), Jones himself has the cajones to cover the Holdsworth mainstay "Atavachron," with a former member of the AH band no less. More remarkable still is that Jones shows he has the mojo to issue a version fresh enough and hot enough to sufficiently justifiy its existence to even the most jaded of Holdsworth freaks.
Perhaps the less obvious yet crowning proof of Jones' skill lies in "Time Is An Infinite Field." An evocative Hunt piano improv originally intended as a solo intro piece to one of the tunes, Jones' recombinant guitar overlay is an astonishingly seamless, organic-sounding retrofit. It shows an uncommon musical empathy that not only adds more wonder to a beautiful base track, but a sublime high point to an album rife with blazing ones.
Unlike the crop of recently popular crossover bands who have wooed chunks of the mainstream public into opening their ears to various progressive instrumental, jazz and fusion music, Jones' brand of uncompromising, unapologetic fusion isn't likely to win many converts to the genre, save those already so inclined. Be that as it may, as a new and fully-recognizable offering to a musical idiom that receives few unmutated additions of late, Fictional Characters
will surely provide a hefty and exciting shot in the arm for jazz-rock/fusion's stalwart devotees.
Floki's Shipyard; The Long Night; Human
Music; Shut Up and Dance; Interlocking
Let's Cook; Time Is An Infinite Field;