Jimmy Earl's a rather prestigious go-to guy. When Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Pino Daniele, Robben Ford, and a coterie of others need an ace bassist, they all go to Earl, and the guy presently can be seen in the rhythm section of Cleto and the Cletones, the Jimmy Kimmel Live show's house band. But, good lord!, look at the cats who sit in on his debut solo CD: Frank Gambale, Dave Weckl, Steve Tavaglione, Jeff Beal, Mitch Forman, Randy Roos (if you caught him on Scott Cossu's DVD, Islands, you'll know what you're in for), and a buncha others. If you recognize even half those names, I needn't tell you you're in for some high-tone fusion.
Earl's no slouch. There's nothing he can't do on his 4-stringed axe, playing far more like a guitarist, and so, when he feels the need to get oblique, as in Steve Swallow's Falling Grace, a duet with drummer Mike Hyman, it's no problem. Then he slips right into Roos' Steve Khan-ish Number Five, pretty as ya please. Lurking behind the formidable trio of Roos, Weckl, and Forman on the cut, Earl plies fretless bass, synth bass, slap bass, and synthesizers (with Forman grabbing the electric piano), layering himself into the mix. It's intriguing as all get out to hear a bassist playing against himself beneath the front ensemble like that.
You're going to get a lot of the creme de la creme in this mode, sharp stanzas and echoes of Rippingtons, Yellowjackets, Cassiopeia, Crusaders, Corea's elektriks, and of course a very healthy dose of Earl's own voice and arranging. One cut, though, Ravel's Pavane, indexed strictly for bass, is interesting for not only its appearance but its fidelity to the original as well. I woulda loved to hear him riff out on it, and this cat's just the guy to do so, but the straight take is very nice, all four strings reverberant and harmonic, baroque while Impressionistic. That aside, though, if what you're in the mood for is some funk in your junk, a groove to behoove, and speed for your need, not to mention fusion for a lovely sonic contusion, dis is da place, Humphrey. And if that ain't enuff, Severn Records is re-releasing his earlier disc (here) along with this one. Don't say I didn't warn about the whiplash that might develop if you check out both. Plenty of breakneck riff-burgling to please even the most discerning over-the-top Level 10 metabolic seizure.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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