Despite the raucous opening rocky bluesy riff of "Weekend Blues" which seems to portend a set dominated by an electric guitar trio with the volume firmly fixed at eleven, beginnings can be deceptive. The second track "Snowball" starts to display some subtleties in composition and execution, especially in the quieter sections. By track three the listener expecting a session of Stratocaster blasters is confounded by Rajani's excellent take on Miles Davis' all-too rarely recorded "Nardis," here re-titled "Sidran" in 7/8 and in which the guitarist's mettle is displayed with full force and where lesser guitarists might fear to tread. Wah wah guitar introduces "The Change" a funky blues which increases in complexity as it progresses, but begins to betray Rajani's love of Jimi Hendrix when he briefly quotes from "Voodoo Chile."
The CD cover alone, depicting eerie skeletal robots might give the uninitiated listener the impression that this is a heavy metal album, and for jazz, it is indeed something of that order, oscillating at times somewhere between Jeff Beck and Allan Holdsworth, but there is more to it than merely metal. The title track "Mass Production" is an exciting, almost febrile outing, but with keyboards affording some respite to the full-on guitar. This is not to decry the metal element, which here works at a higher cerebral level than the more conventional shredding session. An interlude from all this electric excitement is found in the next track "Afternoon in London," a comparatively restrained paen to John Lewis' standard "Afternoon in Paris" with keyboards underpinning the elegant guitar lines of the main riff and deft soloing.
Following this intermission we are treated to the next, somewhat more overt nod to Hendrix with "Hey Jimi" an out-an-out but intensely effective blues in the "Red House" mode. An important point to note here is that Rajani is never tempted into any kind of vocal outing at any point on the album, a trap into which great guitarists have so often fallen. "Yellow Jacket" is a tribute to Russell Ferrante's jazz fusion group, which again follows the Hendrix line of power blues. "Fascination" demonstrates Rajani's ability to play in less common time signatures (here 9/8) which certainly adds to the fascination as does the unusual fade out at the end. The final track "Out and About" centres around a fast guitar riff which gives way to some compelling guitar soloing.
This first album by an unabashed metallist jazzer displays both rock driven raw energy and a sensitivity to jazzier conventions, a fine tightrope upon which to walk, perhaps, hopefully, the shape of things to come?
Track Listing: Weekend Blues; Snowball; Sidran; The Change; Mass Production; Afternoon in London; Hey Jimi; Yellow Jacket; Fascination; Out and About.
Personnel: Ravi Rajani: guitar, keyboards; Liam Waugh: drums; Frank Grime: bass; Jo Phillpotts: bass; Myke Wilson: drums; John Cervantes: keyboard
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.