143

Jeff Kollman: Shedding Skin

By

Sign in to view read count
If there’s one thing you learn from listening to a lot of prog/rock/fusion music, it’s that lightning-fast guitar players are a dime a dozen. Listeners are generally impressed the first couple of times they hear a nimble fingered axeman set their fretboard on fire, but after you realize that there’s a ton of similar guitarists out there cutting CDs you begin to get a bit jaded. This causes the listener to begin looking for traits other than speed to set guitar players apart. The reason I’m bring this up is because when I first fired up Jeff Kollman’s latest CD Shedding Skin I thought to myself “Great, another amphetamine-fingered guitarist with an entire hour to kill noodling pointlessly with his instrument.” However, after listening to the first few tracks I realized that Jeff Kollman is a shredder with “the difference” – that difference being that he can actually write a catchy tune and gets enough variance in his guitar sound to keep things interesting through most of Shedding Skin.

Kollman’s latest release teams him up with master drummer Shane Gaalaas, and a host of guest musicians filling bass and piano duties. The album starts off with a nice acoustic riff introducing the title cut, but before long you realize you’re in for more of a heavy-metal ride as Kollman kicks in the overdrive and begins a frantic sonic journey that has he, Gaalaas, and bassist Ray Reindeau tearing through Dream Theater-esque metal runs as if there was no tomorrow. Reindeau contributes some spine tingling bass licks, and Gaalaas establishes early on that he’s a drumming force to be reckoned with. After the opening track, Kollman loses focus somewhat with two less-than-stellar tracks – “Fat, Mean, and Nasty” which contains a lot of pointless noodling, and “Blues for Pop” which is a standard Stevie Ray Vaughn type roadhouse jam. However, after those two sonic hiccups, Kollman really catches stride.

The middle of the album features a diverse selection of styles including Fripp-like Soundscapes on “The Subconscience,” a tribute to metal-prog stawarts Kings X called “The X Factor” (you’ll swear that’s Ty Tabor on the rhythm parts), and a beautiful acoustic piece in “Intimate Portrait.” The metal-tinged “Sheer Drama” has Kollman serving up some wicked sounds from his axe as Gaalaas bashes away at the skins with reckless abandon, complete with some Slayer-esque double bass drum fills. “My Soul Deep Inside” is a very soothing jazzy piece with some excellent and tastefully done piano work performed by Dale Grisa. However, the track that steals the show on Shedding Skin has got to be “Journey Through Life,” which features a seriously mellow California-style groove coupled with Kollman’s laying down of some of the most incredibly melodic solos I’ve heard in quite some time. Kollman really gives an emotional and very effective performance on this track.

Unfortunately, things begin to unravel a bit towards the end of the disc, with Kollman taking an unfortunate foray into lounge jazz territory with the embarrassing “The Color for Love.” Shedding Skin ends with a whimper rather than a bang with three nondescript exercises in self-important showing off that completely destroy the mood that was set by the tunes in the middle of the disc. It’s a shame that self-restraint couldn’t be maintained through the entire disc, but that is a lot to ask of musicians of this caliber.

Overall, despite a few wrong musical turns, Shedding Skin is a very solid piece of instrumental metal-fusion. Kollman – more so than most of his counterparts – really knows how to write a pleasant melody when he sets his mind to it, and that fact coupled with his excellent drumming partner Shane Gaalaas warrants this release a serious look from the metal and fusion community.

Track Listing: 1. Shedding Skin (4:58); 2. Fat, Mean and Nasty (4:50); 3. Blues for Pop (4:00); 4. Journey Through Life (4:52); 5. The Subconscience (0:58); 6. Sheer Drama (4:35); 7. The X Factor (5:36); 8. Intimate Portrait (1:04); 9. The Color For Love (4:10); 10. My Soul Deep Inside (4:29); 11. Redeye Romp (3:38); 12. Where is One? (3:57); 13. My Guitar Gently Screams (2:58)

Personnel: Jeff Kollman: Guitars, Bass (on Tracks 7,12,13); Shane Gaalaas: Drums and Percussion; Kevin Chown: Bass Guitar (Tracks 3,4,9,10); Ray Riendeau: Bass Guitar (Tracks 1,2); Barry Sparks: Bass Guitar (Tracks 6,11); Roger Burn: Piano and Keys (Tracks 3,4,12); Dale Grisa: Piano (Tracks 9,10)

| Record Label: Marmaduke Records | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Landing CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Words And Music CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Faces CD/LP/Track Review Faces
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Sunday Night At The Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Sunday Night At The Vanguard
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2016
Read "Days Are Not Days" CD/LP/Track Review Days Are Not Days
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Back To Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Back To Your Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations
by John Sharpe
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "All My Treasures" CD/LP/Track Review All My Treasures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Columbia Years 1968-1969" CD/LP/Track Review Columbia Years 1968-1969
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!