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(52:52, Boosweet Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Flight to Exstacy 3:40 2. Little Sunflower 3:52 3. Do Da 3:47 4. Wooded 5:09 5. Moonlight in Paradise 3:57 6. B-Town 4:18 7. Fanci Panz 4:09 8. Rice N Beans 4:58 9. Passion Quest 3:21 10. Still Waiting 4:19 11. Passin Thru 3:49 12. Sundown Blues 4:23 LINEUP: Vernon Neilly – guitars Morris O`Connor – guitars Kevin Chokan – guitars Miguel Mega – guitars With: Juan Nelson – bass Andred Galli – bass Enrico Bagnato – drums Roger Smith – organ, piano Daniel Teles – keyboards Cori Jacobs – piano Mauricio Fernandes – sax Rick Keller – saxophones Tim Chokan – trumpet
Prolusion. G-FIRE is an international project launched by one Vernon Neilly, head of the Boosweet Records label and himself a noted composer, musician and producer. This 2003 production is set up more like a split release than a band project as such. At least from what I could gather from the liner notes, each artist has submitted three tracks that have been in most aspects completed (and recorded too), with the finishing touches applied by Neilly prior to release.
Analysis. The project name G-Fire is apparently an abbreviation for Guitars on Fire, and as such it is rather descriptive of the contents of this disc. This is a guitar album through and through, showcasing the abilities and different qualities of guitarists Vernon Neilly, Morric O'Conner, Kevin Chokan and Miguel Mega. But rather than opting for a guitar hero style of production, this foursome has opted to venture into much gentler territories, namely that of jazz rock. With one notable exception, the songs presented on "G-Fire" are all fine examples of modern jazz rock featuring solid references back to the golden age of the 70's, the major decade for this style of music as for so many other varieties of progressive rock. In terms of style this is a project that places emphasis on the slick variety of the genre. The guitar soloing is melodic and free-flowing; keyboards are used extensively to smooth out the rough edges; the secondary guitar motif, when utilized, stays well-put in a dampened arrangement, providing either slick funky guitar licks or acoustic harmonizing themes; reeds and brass are utilized to enhance the main melodic theme or to harmonize with the instrumental backing. Starkly contrasting elements are few and far between, and even the subtle ones aren't too frequently found. As such one might even describe most of the material as radio friendly, despite its all-instrumental character. The fact that the themes focus on the lighter parts of the tonal register serves as an additional trait strengthening my perception of this production as such. The instrumentalists display a high performance quality, however, and manage to add both life and energy to a CD that would have been rather anonymous if put together by performers of a lesser quality. The rich bass motif and gently insisting funky guitar licks of Little Sunflower detail what elevates this creation to a higher level, helped on quite nicely by clever use of the tangents. And the brass arrangements on Fanci Panz, where tight interplay with the other instruments crafts themes with a plethora of resonances to discover and subtle mood alterations unveiling themselves, another fine example of the best this production has to offer. Even final piece Sundown Blues, which neatly steps over into a slightly different musical tradition, works very well due to the minor details fine musicians such as these are able to add to the proceedings: effective use of resonances, tight interplay and subtle mood alterations served up by deft and experienced hands. It would be unfair to describe this project as one that is adventurous or innovative; the central premise appears to be to concentrate on the well-known and try to explore these safe havens with high-quality craftsmanship supplying the details needed for this to be an interesting creation to explore.
Conclusion. Slick, smooth instrumental jazz rock isn't a type of music that holds a wide appeal - too safe for many progressive rock fans, too little variation for mainstream music lovers, and not enough emphasis on instrumental virtuosity for many jazz lovers. But those who enjoy the silky smooth instrumental variety of the genre in general and productions starring the guitar in particular should find this disc to be a nice gem to add to their collection.
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