Sunday, November 6, 2016

Brett Garsed, T.J. Helmerich - 2001 "Uncle Moe's Space Ranch"

World renowned fusion drummer Dennis Chambers (Santana Parliament/Funkadelic, John McLaughlin, Niacin, Mike Stern) joins forces with Tribal Tech's Gary Willis and Scott Kinsey (Joe Zawinul, Bill Evans, Robben Ford) and legendary guitar duo Garsed/Helmerich for a no holds barred fusion super session. Uncle Moe's Space Ranch features some of the hottest grooves and most unrestrained fusion ensemble and solo work ever recorded.

Finally a band that dares to stretch the meaning of the word "Jazz Fusion". This is a CD that takes the listener on a musical journey packed with influences from many styles...but nothing direct. The term "Jazz" used to mean new..fresh..cutting edge. Teamed up with the term "Fusion" ...for rock influenced, one should expect some very interesting results. Uncle Moe's Space Ranch lives up to the challenge! Fresh ideas, beautiful playing, total interaction...Only a hand full of bands in the last 20 years have sparked my imagination like this one. I highly recomend this CD to anyone who longs for a breath of fresh air. Not only is UMSR groundbreaking musicaly, but the recording quality is exceptional, giving the listener with a good system a REAL treat! Turn it up and enjoy the trip!

The album's first tune, Colliding Chimps, picks up where Tribal Tech's Rocket Science left off with Astro Chimp, pounding the listener with Chambers's explosive drum fills leading to a soaring rock riff. From that point on, a gang of five fuzoid renegades at Uncle Moe's ushers the listener into a musical phantasmagoria never heard before. Many of the songs spiral with wonderfully twisted changes of styles and moods, keeping the listener riveted to the chair or making her shoot through the ceiling (depending on how she reacts to pumping adrenaline).
A slew of influences are apparent on this album: good ol' jazz-rock, rock-jazz, Eastern music, Middle-Eastern music, techno/electronica, hip-hop, kangaroos, southern rock, funk, Allan Holdsworth, New Orleans, Tribal Tech, Robocop, heavy metal, rattlesnakes, progressive rock, etc. Yet they skillfully and artfully melt them all in a kind of tongue-twisting rock-fusion stew that defies characterization, as good fusion should defy any attempt for characterization. I've been listening to fusion since the early '70s, but I've never heard anything quite like this.
Although each player is virtuosic and dazzling, I hear no gratuitous display of ego or pomposity. On the contrary, everyone does his own thing with passion and kinetic energy, at times with a sense of off-kilter humor, contributing to make an organic whole. This is not a "deep" piece of music, not in the sense of Mahavishnu; if you want self-contemplative music, look elsewhere. This is for the most part rave-up, balls-to-the-wall, jovial album full of twisted, mesmerizing complexity that needs to be heard with a devil-may-care attitude. Yet the music is strangely evocative. The album is an actual proof of the proverbial: sometimes the right combination of musicians engenders a fresh, magical result.
Dennis Chambers lays down his patented, continually thrilling drumming; he has a lot to do with the success of this album. What propels Uncle Moe's into high flight is his soulful drumming with sheer power, funk groove, and pyrotechnics.

Having recorded two excellent CDs for Mark Varney's Legato label in the 90s, Brett Garsed and T.J. Helmerich make their debut on (brother of Mark) Mike Varney's Tone Center. They have assembled a top-flight backing band: Scott Kinsey on keys, Gary Willis on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums (Virgil Donati features on one track). The presence of Kinsey and Willis in particular appears to have influenced the song-writing process. The spectre of Tribal Tech and Weather Report looms large throughout this superb CD.
The compositions are strong, the playing spectacular. Garsed, the brilliant Australian musician best known for his work with John Farnham, is the stand-out performer. He is at the peak of his powers on this CD, displaying formidable technique and impeccable taste in equal measure. Kinsey, too, makes an impressive contribution, whether comping or soloing in a style that might be described as neo-Zawinul. He is a significant talent.
If there's been a better fusion release in 2001, I've not heard it. Highly recommended.

This is why people love fusion!!! This is progressive music at its best! These musicians are masters of their art and they let you know it! Their instuments unite into a living and breathing machine of sound. If you like simple, then this may not be for you. If that's the case, check the "elevator music" section of your local music store for the latest "prozac jazz" releases.
Highly recommended for fans of other progressive acts such as "Tribal Tech", "McGill/Manring/Stevens", "Hellborg/Lane/Sipe", "Vital Tech Tones", "MacAlpine/Brunel/Chambers" and "Liquid Tension Experiment".
If you think you are ready, crank it and blast off to the "Space Ranch"... the future of fusion!!

The fourth offering from the guitar partners Brett Garsed and T.J. Helmerich finds the duo surrounded by some of fusion's best. The music has a distinctive Tribal Tech influence thanks to the presence of bassist Gary Willis, but the guitarists' distinctive voices make this a unique sounding quintet. Garsed's long flowing lines are complemented nicely by Helmerich's experimental sonic adventures, which are cohesively held together by the excellent supporting cast. Drummer Virgil Donati makes a memorable guest appearance on "SighBorg," while fusion master Dennis Chambers propels the band on the remaining tracks. The selections include the full-throttle fusion of "SighBorg," the metal-ish "Swarming Goblets," and the Zappa-influenced "I Want to Be a Pine Cone," and there's even some slide guitar on "A Thousand Days." While by no means groundbreaking, this is an enjoyable recording from two of fusion's most intelligent torchbearers.


1 Colliding Chimps     6:17
2     7:04
3 Swarming Coblets     7:14
4 SighBorg     7:22
5 He Is Havin' All That's His To Be Had     7:16
6 Minx     9:09
7 I Want A Pine Cone     6:42
8 A Thousand Days     5:30
9 Untitled [Hidden Track]     4:20


Brett Garsed - Guitar,
Dennis Chambers - Drums,
Gary Willis - Bass,
Scott Kinsey - Keyboards,
T.J. Helmerich - Guitar


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  2. Can You post - Moe`s Town please

  3. One of the unknown giants of jazz-rock fusion has sadly passed away. RIP Marius Popp !

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