103

Greg Howard Band: Lift

Todd S. Jenkins By

Sign in to view read count
Smart, moody, original fusion from an American and four Dutchmen. Howard is a virtuoso of the Chapman Stick, a many-stringed instrument played entirely by tapping. Though the Stick has been used to good avail in ensembles like Hawkwind and King Crimson, it’s rather difficult and has therefore never gained much popularity. Howard is one of the small breed of musicians who make it seem effortless. He is joined here by a group of Dutch performers he met while touring the Netherlands a few years back. The music they create is driving and richly syncopated due to the percussive aspects of the Stick in combination with Jan Wolfkamp’s polyrhythms.

Most of the compositions here were written by Howard. As might be expected, the Stick tends to dominate the proceedings, though Howard is sensible enough to lay back when necessary. There are many wonderful textures on the disc, as with the first track where Hubert Heeringa’s alto sax and violin are overdubbed on the exotic melody. Howard and Wolfkamp alternately complement and clash with each other as the moment requires, while Jan van Olffen's bass holds down the foundation.

The 7/4 “Cross Country” is evocative of the Pat Metheny Group, but with a more sophisticated rhythmic base. Reedman Louis Gerrits guests on three tracks, playing tenor on “Cross Country”, soprano on the lush, relaxed “Experimental Sunrise”, and wailing, groaning EWI (wind synth) on the dense and ominous “The Offering”. Heeringa’s soprano sax is especially beautiful when it’s featured. Sometimes it seems that van Olffen doesn’t have enough to do, but Wolfkamp tends to be so occupied with textural duties that it’s most logical for the bassist to sit back and anchor it all.

Lift has much to offer, especially on repeated listenings. Like the best fusion works, this disc should be played when one has the opportunity to sit down and focus on the blissful little subtleties contained therein. Howard and company move beyond chops, far beyond background music, to the kind of creativity that makes them “musician’s musicians”.

(http://www.greghoward.com)


Track Listing: Dissent; Cross Country; The Offering; Still Water; Chrysalis; The Effect of Marco's First Lekker Bakkie in the Morning; Albatross; Restless; Nord; Blues for Ayman; Experimental Sunrise

Personnel: Greg Howard - Chapman Stick/Synthesizer/Shaker/Rattles; Jan Wolfkamp - Drums/ DDrum/Loops/Timbales/Percussion; Hubert Heeringa - Soprano & Alto Saxophone/ Violin/ Wind-Controlled Synthesizer; Louis Gerrits - Soprano & Tenor Saxophone; Jan van Olffen - Fretless and Fretted Electric Basses

Title: Lift | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Expresso


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
  • Lift by Todd S. Jenkins
  • Lift by Jim Santella
  • Lift by Dave Nathan
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "14.11.2016" CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Double Strike" CD/LP/Track Review Double Strike
by James Nadal
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "The Good Life" CD/LP/Track Review The Good Life
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Collider" CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "United" CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Double Down" CD/LP/Track Review Double Down
by James Nadal
Published: June 10, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.