The core band on the CD is comprised of Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Jimmy Halsip on bass, Peter Wolf on keys, Ernie Watts on sax, and Richman himself on rhythm guitar (and lead on 'Josie'). Richman also arranged all the songs, and in almost every case, the songs are reworked quite a bit.
There are some really great performances here. Steve Lukather is awesome on 'Pretzel Logic'. His style fits perfectly with the tune. His solo is a mixture of hip lines, and those wild, unhinged 'Luke' explosions we all know and love. The result is a tune that is heavier than the original, and very cool. Another perfect match is Jimmy Herring on 'The Fez'. The arrangement sounds pretty faithful to the original, and Herring plays some real cool lines over the changes. Herring's one of those guys who's touch and harmonic sensibility make him a great fit for Steely Dan material. You can easily imagine him as one of the stable of guitar greats playing on the original albums. (For further evidence of this, check out some live Dragonflys shows where Herring tears it up on 'Kid Charlemagne').
Another favorite for me is 'Bodhisattva' featuring Steve Morse. This is another example where the guitarist really fits the song. Morse's bluesy phrasing and tumbling lines really work here. The most interesting arrangement/performance may be 'Aja' with Al DiMeola. The song sounds radically different from the original. It's turned into more of a jazz piece. DiMeola plays a great solo on nylon string guitar.
There are other great performances as well, such as Robben Ford on 'Peg', and Frank Gambale on 'FM'. Jay Graydon and Elliot Randall (both of whom played on original Steely Dan albums) have featured spots also. The only song I don't care for much is 'Dirty Work' with Mike Stern. For some reason the whole tune sounds timid, in my opinion. Stern has appeared on all four of the Richman tribute albums. I prefer his take on 'My Favorite Things' from the Coltrane tribute to what he does this time around. He plays well here, but it just doesn't quite gel for me.
Of all the guitar tribute albums Jeff Richman has produced, I'd say the Mahavishnu tribute is my personal favorite. This album, however, is a close second. Well worth picking up.
The recording industry's lawyers never stop looking to squeeze more money out of everyone, do they? The latest is that they're quite upset about XM launching a mobile device that will let subscribers (yes, the people who already pay) actually record music.
Keyboardist Derek Sherinian will release his 5th solo album "Blood Of The Snake" this summer. The US release date is August 1st. Appearing on the album will be John Petrucci, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Brad Gillis, Slash, and others.
I saw Ohm perform last night at the Prairie Arts Performing Center in Schaumburg Illinois. If you're not familiar, Ohm is an awesome heavy fusion instrumental trio with Chris Poland on guitar, Robert Pagliari on bass, and Kofi Baker on drums. Kofi is not with the band on this tour, so Joel Taylor (Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale) is filling in. The band played 2 sets. The material consisted of tunes from their 3 CD's, one or 2 new tunes that have not yet been recorded, and 3 awesome vocal blues covers that I'll elaborate on later.
This was an incredible show. They started a little late (due to a lengthy sound check I believe). Other than that, it went off without a hitch. Chris Poland just wailed all night. He has a very eclectic style. Very convicted, with lots of bends and slides. And his picking is super-smooth and very fast. He was always changing tones and effects throughout each tune as well. He would often bring in a delay or harmonizer for just a passage or two, then back out to his normal tone. This gave the illusion that the band was bigger than it really was. Pagliari just killed on six-string fretless bass. He has a very unique sound as well. He would sometimes hit a harmonic then slide it up the fretboard while hitting the wah-wah pedal to get these weird sounds. Very cool player. Joel Taylor was awesome too. He had a great drum solo near the end of the first set.
'Joog In Da Boot', 'Tara', and 'Davinci' were all standouts for me. 'Icarus Falls' was great too. Another awesome piece was a long improv jam based on the Jimi Hendrix tune 'Machine Gun'. Very cool. For the final song of the first set, they played 'Sitting On Top Of the World'. Pagliari took on the vocal duties on this and the other 2 vocal tunes, and he sounded great. Poland sounds awesome playing blues stuff. He has a real knack for playing classic blues licks extremely fast and clean. They ended the second set with 'Red House'. All I can say is - Wow! Poland killed on this tune. Holy crap was he wailing. And for an encore, they played 'Crossroads'. The riff they used was not the one most people are probably familiar with from the Cream version. I wasn't sure what they were playing until the vocals came in. It was very cool, and Poland was awesome - again.
It was a real treat to see a band like this so close to home. The show was promoted by the newly formed Chicago Fusion Coalition. Apparently, they are looking to bring more fusion-type acts to the Chicago area. My hats off to them for bringing in Ohm for this fantastic show.