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Jazz fusion supergroup Niacin, composed of star rock bassist Billy Sheehan, keyboard guru John Novello, and funk rock drummer Dennis Chambers, has both returned fusion to its roots with the resurrection of the venerable Hammond B-3 organ and given it a shot in the arm with an injection of hard rock sensibility. Formed in the mid-1990s, the group has continued to produce albums and tour into the 2000s, racking up accolades along the way—even as its members nurture solo careers and contribute to other bands.

Niacin was formed in the middle of the 1990s when rock bassist Billy Sheehan teamed up with keyboard player John Novello to create a vehicle for their work in jazz fusion and progressive rock. The duo brought in drummer Dennis Chambers to complete the trio. All three musicians were well established in rock and jazz circles at the time of the group's formation, crossing easily between the two musical styles. The centerpiece of the band is the Hammond B-3 organ, an instrument that has graced many a jazz and progressive rock recording and, until the late 1970s, was almost as essential to rock and jazz as the guitar or drum. The instrument also lent the group its name; niacin is also known as vitamin B3.

The man behind the Hammond B-3, John Novello, cites as his major influences rock greats such as Deep Purple, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Led Zeppelin. Asked to sum up his band's sound in a sentence, he told the Boston Globe's Steve Greenlee that Niacin is "sort of a progressive retro fusion band" and that it was "guaranteed not to play elevator music." By all accounts, the group has more than succeeded: critics have raved about the group's high energy sound, unusual for a trio. Music critic Jeff Miers, for instance, wrote in the Buffalo News that the group is "blazing, passionate, virtuosic and groovy as all get out."

True to form, Niacin's concerts are typically a workout for the musicians. "When we get on stage," Novello told the Boston Globe's Greenlee, "we just let loose." In fact, some have mistaken the trio for a quartet; Novello doubles on guitar synthesizers, prompting at least one record executive to ask the band members for the name of their guitar player.

Niacin signed with famed jazz man Chick Corea's Stretch label to release its eponymous debut in 1997. The group followed up the next year with High Bias, which features a composition by Corea called "Hang Me Upside Down." Corea also plays keyboard on the track. The rest of the album, with the exception of a cover of Joe Zawinul's "Birdland," was composed by Novello and Sheehan. Critics lauded High Bias's cohesion, with Mike Joyce of the Washington Post singling out Dennis Chambers's "sleight of hand finesse." Following the release of High Bias, the group launched a world tour to promote the album, with dates throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.

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Radio & Podcasts

The Best Of '90s Jazz Fusion

Read "The Best Of '90s Jazz Fusion" reviewed by Len Davis

John Mclaughlin The Heart Of Things, Michael Brecker, Brecker Brothers, Miles Davis Live Around The World, Jeff Richman, Niacin from High Bias, Chick Corea Electric Band, and Tunnels with Percy Jones. Playlist John McLaughlin “Healing Hands" from The Heart Of Things  (Verve) 00:00 Michael Brecker “Escher Sketch" from Now You See It-Now You Don't  (GRP) 07:00 Brecker Brothers “Scrunch" from Out Of The Loop  (GRP) 14:07 Miles Davis “Hannibal" from Live Around The World (Warner) 21:20 Jeff Richman “Suite ...

Album Review

Niacin: Krush

Read "Krush" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

After a lengthy hiatus, the high-impact progressive rock and jazz-fusion trio fires back with its 6th studio album. The respective musicians' demanding schedules as first-call session aces and ongoing affiliations with other bands, both in and out of the studio, spans multiple jazz and rock related genres. Here, the trio's vigorous turbo-powered gait remains intact, along with its demanding rhythmic blueprint. The band tackles guitarist Al DiMeola's fusion classic “Majestic Dance," originally appearing on Return to Forever's 1976 ...

Album Review

Niacin: Organik

Read "Organik" reviewed by John Kelman

With a collective resume that ranges from the ostentatious stadium rock of David Lee Roth and Mr. Big to the fusion of John Scofield and John McLaughlin, the members of Niacin--keyboardist John Novello, bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Dennis Chambers--clearly have chops to spare. What's remarkable about their sixth release, Organik, is the unbelievable high level of energy maintained throughout. By the time the hour-long program is over, even the most indefatigable listener will be spent and exhausted. It's a ...

Album Review

Niacin: Time Crunch

Read "Time Crunch" reviewed by John W. Patterson

This is a first for me. I open a demo package and am so impressed I begin the review before the CD is finished. This release is THAT important. Jazzers will dig this. Fusion heads will get into it. Prog rock fans will drool. Rockers will bang heads. And anyone who loves awesome keys, monster bass and slammin' drums MUST grab this. I received this CD and liner notes “naked" and I instantly assembled a fine jewel case for this ...

Album Review

Niacin: Deep

Read "Deep" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

One of the few modern day champions of the Hammond-B3 organ trio, “Niacin” now record for progressive-rock/fusion label “Magna Carta” and with their 3rd USA release, Deep the musicians do indeed, sway their hard driving ways a bit more towards the prog/fusion realm. Deep may be the trio’s finest effort to date! With this release, “Niacin” not only kicks out the jams while often trading heavy fours intermingled with a huge wall of sound yet also intertwine powerful funk-rock backbeats ...

Album Review

Niacin: High Bias

Read "High Bias" reviewed by Christopher Hoard

If you've sensed a shortage of adrenaline and testosterone in the year's new jazz releases, and still yearn for some of that down-to-earth, kick-ass fusion, replete with hyper-athletic chops and afterburner grooves, then wait no longer. Virtuoso fusion projects seem to be out of fashion with large corporate labels bent on milking their vaults with re-issues (seems they've found out there's just more profit when there's no artist development or living musicians involved!).

Fortunately, in the forever fickle record industry, ...

Album Review

Niacin: High Bias

Read "High Bias" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

High Bias is the follow up to last year's explosive debut on Chick Corea's Stretch record label. As the press release suggests: Niacin is a tighter and slightly more cohesive unit. The driving force is keyboard guru John Novello. Novello is a well know West Coast session musician, educator and Hammond B-3 enthusiast. Bassist Billy Sheehan and all-world drummer Dennis Chambers round out the core of Niacin while Alex Acuna, Pat Torpey, Kenwood Dennard and Rayford Griffin each contribute percussion/drums ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Prosthetic Records



Magna Carta Records


Time Crunch

Rock Records



Magna Carta Records




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