Although receiving billing as Anthony Jackson's first solo CD in a career spanning four decades, this is really a tale of two bassists. Greek bassist/composer Yiorgos Fakanas wrote all the music on Interspirit and takes all five bass solos. The music, however, was composed with the formidably talented Jackson in mind, and his legions of admirers will be delighted by his improvised and composed bass lines. His playing demands close listening behind the multi-instrument orchestration, plying fusion and funk with complex melodic and harmonic lines, often played at a pace.
Featuring a core of fusion notables from the United States with some of the cream of Greek jazz-fusion and classical musicians, the music runs from Return to Forever-like intensity to more accessible Bob James-informed terrain. Most of the compositions feature a brass section, and with up to fourteen musicians playing at any one time the music has the feel of little big-band.
Both Fakanas and Jackson are passionate devotees of classical music and the miniature "Cuore Vibes Part 1," which features the Kinisis String Quartet of Colors Orchestra, is a beautiful mood piece blending viola, violin and cello, with the addition of Tasos Kazaglis on double-bass. Fakanas is interested in the merging of classical music with jazz, and "Cuore Vibes Part 2" unites the string ensemble with the full lineup of jazz fusion musicians. On this composition there are no fewer than three bassists, though Kazaglisunlike Jackson and Fakanasplays in the upper octaves. Trumpeter Mihail Iosifov takes a lovely muted solo, and Mitchel Forman extends himself on piano, but this is primarily an ensemble piece.
Although Jackson does not solo out front as such, he is hardly breaking with tradition in a career spanning forty years and three thousand recording sessions. His role on Interspiritand indeed throughout the yearsis about embellishing the music, and his melodic lines as accompanist have the character of solos.
The music covers plenty of ground; from the flat out fusion of "Inner Power," with a seven-piece brass section, and the funk of "Interspirit" to the classical/jazz fusion of "Cuore Vibes Part 2" and "Seviglia." The latter number features some great acoustic guitar from Frank Gambale and a telling solo from tenor saxophonist Tony Lakatos. The only non-original is a fresh take on the Wayne Shorter classic "Footprints," with impressive unison playing between Jackson and flautist Takis Paterelis, who also doubles on alto and soprano sax.
Although the music can broadly be categorized as fusion, melody is to the fore, and the numerous impressive solos are short and punctuate the overriding ensemble playing. Fakanaswhether accompanying on electric or fretless bass, or soloingbears favorable comparison to his legendary co-leader. Jackson's strongly melodic lines, composed or improvised, are as deep as the ocean.
Interspiritis a passionate affair which will appeal to fusion fans who will find in the multi-layered arrangements one of the most original fusion recordings of recent times.