One of the hardest working and dynamic fusion groups today is the Susan Weinert Band. The German-based trio is lead by the lady guitarist, who equals in talent with names like Alan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, and Frank Gambale. But when listening to her, it is obvious that she is much more than just an axe-burner with hot licks and chops; she is an artist with a specific style that is modern, imaginative, and mature.
Since the mid-'80s she has performed with fusion notables Steps Ahead, Mike Manieri, Rachel Z and produced seven noteworthy recordings with her talented band - mates husband bassist Martin Weinert and drummer Hardy Fischötter.
These two recordings are a fine introduction to the band and a good representation of their creative and progressive music.
Running Out Of Time
Tough Tone Records
Susan Weinert's newest recording finds the band performing some its most original music to date, but it's also their first vocal recording, featuring the impressive singer Francesco Cottone. Jazz fusion and vocals have been done before but the combination of Weinert's compositions and Cottone's voice and lyrics create a unique and landmark recording.
The expressiveness of Cottone's voice is perfectly balanced with the music and the bands sound. Cottone uses prose-like color with jazzy vocals that are times soulful, poetic, and haunting. This is intertwined with Weinert's fret-board artistry which is ever impressive as she commands feeling and complete spontaneity, with a variety of electric, synthesized, and acoustic guitar sounds. The rhythm section is the key to keeping the various patterns and tempos tight yet also loose. The ten compositions encompass a variety of moods from the eclectic rock "Eleven and "Change to atmospheric interpretations "When the Water Bows and "What a Night.
If you're interested in searing solos and bone crunching riffs you'll be pleased with "They Only Come At Night ; yet this recording has much more to offer. Cottone's lyrics and Susan's acoustic guitar work on "Sooner are simply breathtaking as they covey music that is mature, introspective, and personal. The tune "Darkness is good example of the group's inventiveness bringing to mind a Weather Report-like style with nice bass work by Martin. The funky groove on the closing song "Just Do It sums up the attitude of this recording and the band with music that is alive, kicking, and totally creative.
Susan and Martin Weinert
Tough Tone Records
Synergy is a 2002 duo recording featuring the Weinerts on acoustic guitar and bass. It offers an excellent display of the musicianship and depth of each artist outside of the context of the typical fusion group. The beautifully recorded music is a natural extension from previous recordings such as Point of View, which included acoustic as well as electric compositions.
One might think that the isolation of these two musicians playing "unplugged would be a challenge and uneventful; but this is far from the case in the hands of this duo. The seven compositions are fully realized works that are interesting, provoking, and simply a pleasure to listen to. Susan's nylon string guitar possesses tones of warmth, clarity, and feeling, while Martin's upright resonates power. The music gives light to a number of influences including Latin, Swing, and Classical touchesbut with arrangements that are all together contemporary.
All of the music was written by Susan, who is an avid composer, and her attention to phrasing, spacing, and interaction, creates expansive dialogs between the guitar and bass. This is evident on "Regentag as the melody is played at times in unison or solo; and develops into multiple solo threads. The instruments never compete but more so encourage each other. On "Don Q Susan's acoustic is delightful giving flashes of gypsy textures. The rural but modern sound painting on "Bubu finds Martin delivering a thunderous and earthy solo as Susan joins in with complex and interesting playing that is simply inspiring.
It's easy to stereotype musicians and fit them into nice little molds from previous experiences. Though the queen of fusion is known for her hard hitting and sophisticated guitar work the fact of the matter is that this is one of her best recordings regardless of the genre.
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Running Out Of Time
Tracks: See Eleven; Change; When The Water Bows; Running Out Of Time; Darkness; What A Night; They Only Come Out At Night; Sooner; Weather
Personnel: Susan Weinert: electric/acoustic guitars, keyboards, effects; Martin Weinert: basses; Hardy Fischötter: drums; Francesco Cottone: vocals.
Tracks: Bubu; Synergy; Blue Light; Don Q; Regentag; Dance Of Joy; The Secret Of The 7 Tables.
Personnel: Susan Weinert: nylon string acoustic guitar; Martin Weinert: acoustic upright bass.