Oh, man, have I been waiting for this one. Three of the major players in today’s American progressive rock flaunt their wares in a grand set which runs the gamut from Jimmy Page to dusty gypsy caravans. Ex-Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens proves once again that he is no pop-punk has-been with a head-spinning array of tones, effects and stylistic shifts. Former Zappa and Missing Persons drummer Terry “I’m So Cute” Bozzio excels at lightning turns and tasteful punctuations; every stroke he plays fits like a velvet glove. King Crimson bassist and Stick-man Tony Levin mostly keeps the pocket at bay but can certainly hold his own in this high-energy fray.
The opener is a bone-crusher in the Led Zeppelin style, bolstered by guitar alarm-blasts and Levin’s funk-fingered percussiveness. Track 4 is enriched with pensive beauty, while others braise in a dark brocade of deep Mahavishnu tones. Flamenco guitarist Marcus Nand adds a bold dash of gypsy spice to #7, which was only slightly marred by some disconcerting note-clipping in the editing room. Bozzio’s percussion on this track is nothing short of brilliant. Perhaps the albums’ highlight is the ten-minute endless, which begins as a 7/4 feature for Levin’s bowed electric upright. Sitar drones and soft cymbal pulses provide buoyancy in this gorgeously atmospheric piece that occasionally recalls Danny Kirwan’s lush instrumentals with Fleetwood Mac. The pace builds subtly until the listener finds himself surrounded by simmering energy that threatens to boil over before the bottom drops out of the pot. An album full of surprises and rewards by three masters of the craft.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.