434

Frank Gambale: Natural Selection

Jack Huntley By

Sign in to view read count
Frank Gambale, early Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) whiz-kid and longtime guitarist in the Chick Corea Elektric Band, is known for his sweep- picking technique, fretboard virtuosity, and penchant for fusion jazz. But with his 2006 outing, Natural High (Wombat Records), and now 2010's Natural Selection, Gambale has shown off a more straight-ahead style that wonderfully couples his technical artistry with a focused, melodic swing.

Aided on Natural Selection by the superb pianist, Otmaro Ruiz, and the equally interesting Alain Caron on bass, this trio really cooks, flexing its improvisational muscles on extended solos that show off not only individual players' harmonic creativity but the dynamic interplay between soloist and backing unit. The opening track, "Teaser," is chock-full of tasty solos and precision artistry while never losing the pulsing rhythm.

On the tracks like "Smog Eyes" and "In From Somewhere" (yes, a play on the Green/Heyman standard "Out of Nowhere") there is a nod to the sounds of classic '50s guitarists like Tal Farlow. Maybe it's Gambale's crisp, rapid lines, maybe it's the comping styles in the drummer-less format, maybe the upbeat and open arrangements, but taken together these tracks feel pleasingly reminiscent of that classic sound. And Gambale really stretches out on these tracks with moving, imaginative solos.

Especially interesting on these tunes is Ruiz's assertive piano. His solos incorporate an endless creative energy. And Caron's bass masterfully carries the weight of the trios rhythmic structure throughout this album but particularly shines on the upbeat tracks. Additionally, the trio moves into the smooth jazz realm on tracks like "Gioa" and "Gambashwari," both of which incorporate a light percussion and more world-music vibe. Although these tunes are well done, they sometimes teeter close to dissipating the energy created on the more upbeat numbers.

Taken as a whole, Natural Selection covers a varied musical territory but really excels on the more straight-ahead, classic-sounding tracks. Throughout, though, the musicianship is wonderful and the soloists are always interesting. Gambale's style is marvelously flexible in the driving swing on most of this CD and in being so, adds a more melodic sensibility. The Darwinian album title is apt as Gambale's stylistic variations more than survive the musical environment of this album—they thrive.


Track Listing: Teaser; Smog Eyes; Tones For Chick's Bones; In From Somewhere; Gioia; Good Morning Sunshine; Samba Di Somewhere; Natural Selection; Gambashwari.

Personnel: Frank Gambale: guitar; Alain Caron: bass; Otmaro Ruiz: piano.

Title: Natural Selection | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Wombat


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "In The Past" CD/LP/Track Review In The Past
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)" CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Wet Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Wet Paint
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "The Apple Of No" CD/LP/Track Review The Apple Of No
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "The Stone House" CD/LP/Track Review The Stone House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Green With Envy" CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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