Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

264

Frank Gambale: Raison D'etre

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarists are a funny lot; so many of them, not content with the harmonic/intervallic potentials of standard guitar tuning, experiment with a myriad of alternate tunings, sometimes with the expressed purpose of emulating the kind of chromatic chordal capabilities of the piano. As if there isn't enough to explore with the standard instrument, they feel a burning need to reinvent its harmonic capabilities, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Take fusion-burner Frank Gambale who, with his Neauveau Tuning, has reinvigorated his playing and, with Raison D'etre , his solo career.

While Gambale has always been known for monster chops, harmonic sophistication and a breadth of tone that separates him from some of his contemporaries, his recent albums, while never short of technically impressive, have become somewhat samey. Well, all that has changed—almost. From the opening finger-picked arpeggios of "Foreign Country," which sounds like Allan Holdsworth meets the Dixie Dregs, you know something different is going on. Sure, the legato lines are there, and the burning solo tone; what is new are the voicings made possible by his new tuning, the capability to play chords with a chromatic closeness. And with these new harmonic possibilities open up a fresh new approach to soloing. Gambale has, quite simply, never sounded this good.

And if it isn't enough that Gambale has a whole new direction to give his sound a freshness that distinguishes him from the plethora of fusion guitarists, there's his pick of bandmates. Gambale has been touring with drummer Billy Cobham recently, and it's clear that they understand each other. Cobham delivers some of his best powerhouse drumming in years, from mind-boggling solos to navigating unusual time signatures with the sense of ease that comes from spending time with the progenitors of irregular metered fusion, The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The latter half of "Complex Emotions" sounds, in fact, as if it was lifted from the glory days of the Orchestra and given a contemporary facelift. Ric Fierabracci and Steve Billman, who share bass duties, work well with Cobham, providing rock solid support as well as strong counterpoint to some of Gambale's mind-warping elliptical melodies.

But the real revelation here is Gambale, who, with a new harmonic concept, brings new validity to that dirtiest of words, fusion. Grooves abound, as do chops, but none of it seems superfluous or excessive. Gambale seems more concerned, this time around, with solos that are more about thematic development and not just about displays of blinding technique. With his newly-created pianistic harmonic sensibility Gambale joins Allan Holdsworth in the upper echelons of guitar fusion; like Holdsworth, he will be often imitated but never copied. Fans of fusion will love Raison D'etre , and fusion naysayers would do well to return their attention to Gambale; he has truly reinvented himself, and the result is an album that is never less than captivating, intelligent, moving and impressive.


Title: Raison D'être | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Original Jazz Classics


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "Witchy Feelin'" CD/LP/Track Review Witchy Feelin'
by Doug Collette
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Genesis, Mystery And Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis, Mystery And Magic
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 6, 2017
Read "Alcanza" CD/LP/Track Review Alcanza
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 14, 2017
Read "Cuban Nocturne" CD/LP/Track Review Cuban Nocturne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 7, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor