Guitarist Greg Howe delivers Fusion with a capital F on Extraction
, with a style that will appeal to fans of Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale and Allan Holdsworth. With a rhythm section that includes Béla Fleck and the Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten, and session drummer extraordinaire Dennis Chambers, there are plenty of chops to go around; yet while there is no shortage of high octane soloing, there is a refreshing emphasis on composition.
One of the most remarkable things about this record is that the players never met to record it. Tracks were recorded at different times, in different locations, and edited together by Howe. Albums that are recorded in such a piecemeal approach often lack a sense of cohesiveness, but this has all the chemistry of a live recording.
With Wooten and Chambers’ experience with funk, it is no surprise that deep grooves abound on Extraction
. Check out "Tease", "Lucky Seven", or "Bird’s Eye View", where the tune dissolves into a sumptuous half-time groove.
Howe’s background as a shredder comes through on the recording, but he has a refreshing sense of melody and almost compositional sense in the way that he develops his solos, putting him a step ahead of many of his contemporaries. While he has roots in rock and fusion jazz, he knows his history; you can hear traces of bebop on the Charlie Parker-inspired "Crack It Way Open". Few guitarists would dare tackle the Alan Pasqua tune, "Proto Cosmos", which has become a signature piece for Allan Holdsworth, but Howe manages to pay tribute to Holdsworth while, at the same time, making it all his own. And he is equally capable of Don Ross-like acoustic wizardry on the solo piece, "A Delicacy".
Wooten continues to show why he is one of the premier electric bassists today. Content to hold the groove, as he does on the title track, contribute an awe-inspiring tapped solo on "Tease", or show his bop roots on "Lucky 7", he has an uncanny ability to fit into any context.
Chambers’ ability to mix pyrotechnic displays of virtuosity while, at the same time, keeping a rock solid groove, explains why he is also in such high demand. Check out his solo on "Crack It Way Open" for an example of his remarkable ability to balance chops and feel.
All this is blended into compositions which, while allowing plenty of room for soloing, never degenerate into simple jams. Every piece offers a different challenge to the players, and to the listener. Extraction
is a fresh new album of take-no-prisoners Fusion which is equal parts chops, groove and intelligent writing. A thoroughly engaging listen.