This one surprised me. I expected a more straight ahead session a la the Sheryl Bailey release (here), especially given the included standard (Softly as in a Morning Sunrise) and titular references (One for Wes, Coltrane of Thought), but Lou Volpe comes from the fusion side of the house and deftly blends such diverse influences as Steve Khan, Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs era), some DiMeola (!), and then a bunch Crusaders-era string benders (Carlton, Ritenour, Tropea, etc.) after a coupla quarts of caffeine. More, he gathered an impressive trio (Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Buddy Williams on drums) that reinforces a straight-ahead contrast to the guitar's fluid, adventurous, constantly morphing voice and celerities.
The result is a combination that weds trad with 70s jazz-rock in a ceremony managing to make everything in this zesty fete of connubiality dance and bop. The title track shows it clearly, flitting between mannered sonorities and wild convolutions. Volpe is one of those cats who can turn on a dime and give you nine cents change before charging for the next hurdle, but, in Coltrane of Thought, Gumbs gives him a bit of concurrent what-fer as well, taking the keys on a romp, Volpe later re-taking the turf in an even more dexterous display as the comp fades out. As the few-seconds between-tracks silence intervenes, the listener is advised to take deep breaths, check his pulse, and get ready for the rest of the CD.
This guitarist is not only fleet of finger but nimble of mind. What might be a blur in a rock guitarist's hands becomes crystal clear in Lou's and precious few rockers ever go through so many tempo, stylistic, and modal changes in the space of a single cut. Hear and Now is a text in how quickly a six-stringer must adopt a dizzying array of possibilities in order to keep up with the ferment of his own evolving terrain. Still, what tickles my ribs is how this disc is going to have both stodgy traditionalists and futurist prog-heads sitting side by side, grooving to how well the materiality of both can harmonize and then play off one another. Not an easy feat, not at all.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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