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Friday, March 11, 2016

Henry Kaiser and Robert Musso - Echoes for Sonny (There, 2015) ****

For guitar fans - especially ones of crunchy electric jazz rock, Echoes for Sonny is must hear. The result of a collaboration between two veterans of the downtown New York City music scene, the album, a tribute to a mutual friend and influence, Sonny Sharrock, is a powerful and exciting tribute and a highly original album.

Guitarists Henry Kaiser and Robert Musso grace the back cover of the CD jacket, standing under the Sonny Sharrock Way street sign in Ossining, NY. Both had worked with the influential free-jazz guitarist in the 80s and 90s. Musso as a part of the group Machine Gun and Kaiser on various tours. On this album, they are joined by third guitarist Nick Didkovsky, bassist Jesse Kraków and drummer Weasel Walter

They begin with a version of the catchy - yes catchy - 'Promises Kept' from Sharrock's masterful Ask the Ages album (just given a re-release). After the rousing intro, delivered with all the crunch and verve one could want, the quintet dives into free playing that goes from melodic shards to avant-metal shredding. There are two other Sharrock penned songs on the album, 'The Echoes' and 'Many Mansion', the rest are originals credited to the entire group. 'Raga Mishra-Musso' follows the fiery opener with a exploratory introduction of intersecting modes that coalesces into a layered epic. The penultimate 'Off-Axis' is a captivating track, with the three guitarists creating a sticky web of sound for the listener to get entangled in.

Excellent, energetic, and enjoyable, Echoes For Sonny is the kind of tribute that draws from the source, then goes beyond.