Keeping track of the recordings with trumpetist Roy Campbell, one of my favorite musicians, appears to be a good idea. On this album by guitarist Garrison Fewell he plays an important role, but so does the whole band, including Italian Achille Succi on bass clarinet and alto, Eric Hofbauer on guitar, John Voigt on bass, and Miki Matsuki on drums. Alex Fewell joins on percussion on two tracks. Without tracking Campbell, this one might have gone unnoticed, and that would have been unfortunate, because it is excellent. The pieces are composed, and wonderfully organised around the double guitar backbone, that is lyrical and elegant. Both guitarists have this very functional, humble and melodic approach, making especially the longer suite-like pieces flow like rivers. Campbell is the way I like him, expressive, deeply emotional, but he is equalled on this album by Succi, whose heartrending solos are exceptionally good. The band is at its best on "Venus", a 17 minute-long track, with a steady slow-tempo rhythm, a great background for the various soloists to do their thing, nothing earth-shattering, but beautiful nevertheless. The album varies between expansive epic pieces, more intimistic moments, such as the sensitive "Avant Aria", or the more avant-garde intro piece "Spectronomous". A little more unity would have made this a great album, but most of it is truly excellent.
Listen to an extract from "Venus"
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