Jeff Richman, XYZ Review
Attention fusion aficionados! Jeff Richman, a fusion guitarist, composer, and producer whose impressive career has spanned nearly five decades, is releasing his latest offering, XYZ. Throughout his eighteenth album as a leader, Richman unites with various all-star ensembles, skillfully pushing the boundaries of fusion while maintaining his signature sound. The incredible list of fusion musicians changes from song to song and is comprised of Jeff Richman on guitar, George Whitty, Scott Kinsey, Otmaro Ruiz, and Mitchell Forman on keyboards, Vinnie Colaiuta and Gergö Borlai on drums, Jimmy Haslip and Dean Taba on bass, and Jeff Beal on trumpet. The album showcases a stunning array of talent across nine captivating tracks that present a blend of jazz, Latin, rock, funk, and blues into impassioned fusion.
“XYZ” opens the album with Richman’s deeply expressive guitar playing leading the way. His composition is intelligent and maintains a fusion edge that he is known for. His improvisational and conversational interactions with the ensemble’s deep groove by Haslip and Colaiuta are excellent.
Richman and Beal trade phrases on the reggae-infused “Be Cool.” This time around, Taba joins Colaiuta to form the core rhythm section. Also of note is Richman’s interaction with Kinsey’s keyboard. Richman augments his guitar’s tone to get a more ‘trumpet’ sound with his expert knowledge of using effects to create a sound.
“Optamystical” has a shifting composition, with the core rhythm section of Haslip and Colaiuta returning. The different feel featured in the composition form adds to the excitement and listening experience. In addition, Richman’s use of double stops to emphasize parts of his improvisation is a beautiful touch.
“Ray Barretto,” a tribute to the iconic percussionist, gracefully pushes the boundaries with its exhilarating twists and turns. Ruiz’s elegant solo is a blending of elongated melodic ideas and flowing rhythms. Richman seamlessly performs a fiery guitar solo showing the prowess of his Latin-tinged fusion guitar chops. Colaiuta’s dynamic drumming, always buoyant and explosive, permeates the track.
“Left Right Here” showcases hip horn parts, a bluesy melody, and Haslips’ big bass sound. Similar impressive moments are on “Bar 55,” an outstanding fusion composition with a climbing melody and moving harmonic pattern.
The result is Richman’s XYZ album is a true fusion journey, effortlessly blending jazz, Latin, rock, funk, blues, and more within a talented ensemble, featuring an array of keyboardists and the masterful contributions of Haslip and Colaiuta. Richman’s distinctive signature sound, combined with his ever-expanding vocabulary and the expert control of emotionally charged, playful, and dynamic improvisations, is in top form, leaving no doubt that he poured his heart and soul into this extraordinary creation, XYZ. That’s the short of it!
Connect with Jeff Richman: Website |
March 23, 2023
Blue Canoe Records