Thursday, October 12, 2017

Greg Howe, Victor Wooten, Dennis Chambers - 2003 "Extraction"

Extraction is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Greg Howe, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Victor Wooten, released on October 7, 2003 through Tone Center Records. According to Howe, the album went through a very difficult recording process which spanned two years, resulting in disagreements between the three musicians and Shrapnel founder Mike Varney, as well as several delays in the release date.

"A Delicacy" is a re-recording of an instrumental previously released on Now Hear This, a 1991 album by Howe II (an earlier band of Greg's). "Proto Cosmos" is a popular jazz fusion composition by pianist Alan Pasqua, originally featured on The New Tony Williams Lifetime's 1975 album Believe It.

Although he's primarily known as a heavy metal shredder, guitarist Greg Howe can pretty much adapt to any style thrown his way -- including jazz fusion. And this is precisely the style that is featured throughout 2003's Extraction, which saw Howe joined by such top-notch instrumentalists as Victor Wooten on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums (as well as David Cook on keys). Longtime fans of Howe who are hoping for at least a glimpse of his hard rock roots are out of luck here, as the tunes often recall the carefree fusion days of the 1970s, when such artists as Billy Cobham, Stanley Clarke, and Al di Meola were consistently giving a clinic with chops-heavy tunes. As far as modern-day fusion goes, Extraction is pretty darn consistent from front to back, as evidenced by such uptempo ditties as "Extraction" and "Crack It Way Open," as well as more tranquil moments like "Tease" and "Ease Up." Howe, Wooten, and Chambers have certainly succeeded in summoning up a heavy '70s vibe throughout Extraction, and as a result, the album wouldn't sound out of place played between School Days and Where Have I Known You Before.

The pedigrees of these musicians are unquestionably solid. Right off the bat we’re treated to a powerful Chambers drum solo on the title track, which then settles into a 16th-note melody line so typical of modern fusion. “Tease” is exceptionally entertaining, each performer coming up with an endless series of creative ideas. But the next track, “Crack It Way Open,” is pretty much inconsequential filler, the kind of aimless noodling that almost put fusion in its grave a decade ago. The tracks keep alternating thusly between promise and pap.

When Howe picks up the acoustic guitar things get a bit more interesting. Wooten adds some marvelous runs and his fretless playing is as fine as always but he, too, tends to fall into the 16th-note babble pattern. Chambers, for his part, bubbles and swells appropriately on each tune; it’s a shame he doesn’t have more to support. Keyboardist Dave Cook’s pads and lines help to keep things on track, and he is a respectable soloist.

Having recently "discovered" Greg Howe, I really enjoy this album on several different levels. The playing (by all band members) is top-shelf. They are all technically virtuoso. Greg's playing, while very technical, is also very tasteful and jazzy on this album. Even the acoustic numbers are mesmerizing. The tones used on guitars and keyboards are a perfect match for the funky, jazzy, fusionistic melodies here. I honestly can't listen to this CD enough! Worth every cent.

This music exceeds my expectations. I new that the title track was special, but was surprised that each song was special in it's own way. All four musicians are very gifted and contribute to one fine package of music. Kudos to Greg Howe for his compositions. Proto-Cosmos is a wonderful composition written by Alan Pasqua. If you've heard Allan Holdsworth's version of it, make sure to sample this version. It keeps the excitement and raises it several notches. I completely recommend this recording.

Track listing:
All music composed by Greg Howe, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "Extraction" 6:13
2. "Tease" 6:07
3. "Crack It Way Open" 5:59
4. "Contigo" 6:30
5. "Proto Cosmos" (Alan Pasqua) 4:15
6. "A Delicacy" 2:24
7. "Lucky 7" 6:02
8. "Ease Up" 6:20
9. "Bird's Eye View" 6:18

Total length: 50:08


Greg Howe – guitar, guitar synthesizer, keyboard, production
Dennis Chambers – drums
Victor Wooten – bass
David Cook – additional keyboard, keyboard solos



  2. WOw excellent!! Thank you so much

  3. Thanks very much. Michel.