Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Various Artists - 2004 "A Guitar Supreme" - Giant Steps In Fusion Guitar

Given the label and roster here, one should have a good idea of what's in store for Guitar Supreme: Giant Steps in Fusion Guitar: fusion guitar giants performing well played, immaculately produced songs written or popularized by John Coltrane. And that's what it delivers, but while some of the performances are impressive, the overall sound seems to place more emphasis on technique and production than the spiritual passion embodied by Coltrane. Each player is backed by electric bass, drums, Hammond organ and rhythm guitar, giving each song an almost-funky smooth jazz vibe. This works fairly well on songs like "Mr. Syms" and "Village Blues," but it's pretty inappropriate for "Resolution" (part of the "Love Supreme Suite"), where the solemn spirituality of the original is completely undermined by the upbeat backing. On most of the other songs, once the head of the tune is stated, they all begin to sound the same since every tune is given exactly the same treatment. "Afro Blue" is one of the album highlights, with Jeff Richman's distorted tone giving a bit of edge to the sound, Mike Stern does a nice "My Favorite Things," and Greg Howe turns in a couple of fiery solos. Robben Ford's take on "Village Blues" is also well done, but the other tracks end up all blending together. None of this is bad, mind you, and the folks who are into the Tone Center/Shrapnel sound will be pleased and perhaps spurred to investigate more music from the jazz spectrum. Keep in mind that this is an album geared for fusion/guitar fans much more than John Coltrane fans, and you shouldn't be disappointed.

John Coltrane's musical virtuosity not only influenced sax players, but also composers and soloists on many other instruments. A Guitar Supreme: "Giant Steps In Fusion Guitar" brings together the creme de la creme of jazz/fusion guitarists with Mike Stern, Larry Coryell, Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather, Greg Howe, Jeff Richman, Frank Gambale and Robben Ford, paying a guitar tribute to one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. These phenomenal guitarists approach their lead solos with a respect and energy which renders their contributions to "A Guitar Supreme" among their greatest individual works to date. Additional musicians include Alphonso Johnson on bass, Tom Brechtlein on drums and Larry Goldings on keyboards.

Track Listings:

1. Resolution
2. Afro Blue
3. Crescent
4. Giant Steps
5. My Favorite Things
6. Naima
7. Mr Syms
8. Central Park West/Your Lady
9. Equinox
10. Village Blues
11. Lazy Bird
12. Satellite 

Personnel:

Eric Johnson (guitar on "Resolution"),
Jeff Richman (guitar on "Afro Blue," "Central Park West/Your Lady"),
Steve Lukather (guitar on "Crescent"),
Greg Howe (guitar on "Giant Steps," "Mr. Syms"),
Mike Stern (guitar on "My Favourite Things," "Equinox"),
Frank Gambale (guitar on "Naima," "Lazy Bird"),
Robben Ford (guitar on "Village Blues"),
Larry Coryell (guitar on "Satellite"),
Larry Goldings (organ),
Alphonso Johnson (bass),
Tom Brechtlein (drums).

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