What most impresses the listener to Personae by the trio of Jonas Helborg, Shawn Lane and Jeff Sipe is the incredible technical chops these three musicians possess. The music on this recording is not for the "faint of heart," nor someone only comfortable with lightweight, laid back, easy listening musical material. The CD is nothing less than a an incredibly exciting full frontal aural assault that definitely leans more toward the heavier sounds associated with rock and funk music.
Helborg penned all six of the compositions that comprise some fifty seven minutes of music on the CD, and his bass playing definitely serves as the rhythmic foundational groove for the trio. Lane’s guitar and Sipe’s drumming are also exemplary of, and influenced by, the work of other great fusion musicians such as John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham. Recorded during a live performance in Germany, the trio performs with a tight focus while simultaneously opening up long stretches of improvisation. While the entire recording is impressive, two outstanding moments occur on the first two compositions. "Time is the Enemy," the opener, is an incredibly fast tune that quickly shows off the technical prowess of the ensemble. The second cut, "Rag B/B" is a more down-tempo twenty-plus minute excursion on which the trio stretches out on extended improvised solos.
Personae demonstrates the work of three musicians at the height of their abilities bringing their "A game" to a performance. Fans of bands like Primus, Phish, String Cheese Incident, and Medeski, Martin and Wood would likely also enjoy Helborg, Lane, and Sipe’s Personae. For anyone who is awed by, and respects great technical artistry along with heavier sounds of fusion jazz, this recording would also be a most welcome addition to a CD collection.