Allan Holdsworth has long been respected as one of the fusion guitar greats. His performance on this date did nothing to tarnish that well-earned reputation. The set started out with several mellow tunes, focusing heavily on the synthesizer-infused guitar sound Holdsworth is known for.
The intricate chords found in many of his compositions did not go unnoticed. One fan yelled out, "it takes me years to play one of your chords." To which Holdsworth replied, "maybe you need to go to the pub more often, practice Irish yoga," which elicited a chuckle from the crowd. One thing I noticed about Allan is the humble way which he goes about his business. The unassuming look on his face after an amazing solo or the modest smile following a stunning version of one of his songs endears him to his fans.
Selections performed by the trio included The Fifth, Fred, and Water on the Brain. The version of Fred was heavy and rocked the house. I was very pleased when the group played the title track from I.O.U. This is one of my personal favorite Holdsworth compositions and this rendition was phenomenal.
Jimmy Johnson (bass) and Chad Wackerman (drums) are top notch musicians. They make the musicians around them sound better. In addition, they are well-versed in the Allan Holdsworth library. These two facts were apparent as the trio engaged in a musical dialogue throughout the entire set. Both Johnson and Wackerman threw down excellent solos. However, they did their best work in support of each other and their leader. For those of you who enjoy fusion, definitely venture out to see this trio when the opportunity presents itself.
The Mahavishnu Project opened the evening of guitar-centric jazz fusion. With meticulous precision the group performed various Mahavishnu classics, including Meeting of the Spirits, Sanctuary and Dance of Maya. A highlight of their set was a song they have been getting a lot of requests for titled Open Country Joy. A wonderful composition, it is no surprise fans have been asking to hear it and the group pulled it off, did it justice. A talented vocalist joined the group for pleasant versions of If I Could See and Earthship.