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Todd Clouser: Todd Clouser's A Love Electric

Chris M. Slawecki By

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"A Love Electric is possibility and energy," explains guitarist, composer and bandleader Todd Clouser. "I come from a rock place as a player. I still love Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and the total madness in noise, even if I'm listening to Charlie Parker, Monk, or Wayne Shorter more often these days."

"All that was once new was initially regarded as 'out,' 'nasty,' and 'evil,' from Robert Johnson to Ornette Coleman to electric Miles Davis to electric Bob Dylan," he concludes. "That's the stuff that feels real to me and it's always been that way."

After his musical education at Berklee, Clouser relocated to Baja, Mexico, to simultaneously pursue his muse and a less frantic lifestyle. The first two albums he released from the Baja so impressively caught the ear of trumpet conceptualist Steven Bernstein that the trumpeter toured Mexico in 2009 and 2010 with Clouser co-leading Bernstein's band. Clouser's guitar and trumpet from Bernstein and Kelly Rossum are the primary solo instruments on A Love Electric.

In the opening "Serenity Now," Clouser demonstrates his diverse, almost encyclopedic, guitar approach while his tune descends into a chaotic free guitar/trumpet duel passage until the crack of the unifying downbeat steers the ensemble safely home. "Curtis" exercises a steamy soul-jazz-rock workout with hot trumpet blasting like artillery fire. "Brass Suite 1970" busts out the funk from that same decade: drummer Greg Schutte kicks out a plump backbeat, bassist Adam Linz churns up its undertow, and Clouser's guitar continually nudges farther and deeper into blues-rock space.

Clouser's Hammond organ/guitar blues shuffle "Littlest Number" swings from the frame of his phased-reverb guitar hook. "The Border at Pachacan" seems to return Clouser to Mexico, a colorful panorama decorated with acoustic piano and percussion that accent its Latin tinge so evocatively that you can imagine Booker T. & the MGs jamming this tune in a Mexican cantina. Guitar and companion trumpets next paint a somber "Autumn City Portrait."

A Love Electric also reworks two tunes by notable pop songwriters, "One" (popularized by Three Dog Night but written by Harry Nilsson) and Clouser's closing guitar soliloquy on Leonard Cohen's aching "Hallelujah."

Clouser also works as an advocate and educator for the arts in Mexico through his non-profit organization Arts Day Out.

Track Listing: Serenity Now; Meet me at the Polo Grounds; Curtis; Bobby White in the City; The Habit Kick; Jimena; Littlest Number; The Border at Pachacan; Autumn City Portrait; One; Brass Suite 1970; Mo City Kid; Hallelujah.

Personnel: Todd Clouser: guitars; Gordy Johnson: bass; Greg Schutte: drums; Bryan Nichols: Rhodes; Steven Bernstein: trumpet; Julio de la Cruz: piano; Jason Craft: Hammond B-3; Adam Linz: bass; Kelly Rossum: trumpet.

Title: Todd Clouser's A Love Electric | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Ropeadope

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