There's subtle psychological wit in the title of Chad Wackerman's Dreams, Nightmares, and Improvisations, because dreams and nightmare are, y'see, themselves forms of improvisation, as any Freudian or Jungian will tell you—and Wackerman knows a thing or two about improv, having issued from a diverse background pulling in not only a seven year stint with Frank Zappa (and inclusion in an astounding 28 Zappa LPs and 6 DVDs) but extending as far as gigs with the London Symphony Orchestra. Within all that, Allan Holdsworth has in the past recruited him to appear on 9 of his own releases. Add in James Taylor, Joe Sample, Andy Summers, John Pattitucci, and others as avid patrons of Chad's talents, and you have one formidable cat on the skins.
Well, Holdsworth not only plays on nearly every cut here but even trots through an amazingly John Abercombie-ish escapade in Bent Bayou (well, perhaps not all that surprising when you consider John has as lustrous a rep as an improviser as Allan). More, he brought in his favorite bassist, Jimmy Johnson, and, man, can this bad-ass m**herf**ker play that four-stringed axe! Yow! Right up there in the stratosphere in a league with gentz like Percy Jones.
For all that, though, Dreams is often a surprisingly down-tone affair, much more mellifluous than would be expected even for the flurries of chops rearing up during its nearly-an-hour length. Take The Billows as an example. With Holdsworth on both guitar and Starr Z-Board (a.k.a. the Ztar), the song hangs right in the middle of the entire CD's ambiance, restrained while energetic. The rest of the cuts tend to hang more beneath it than above, and, even when the going gets heavy, it's still relatively low-key, mannered, as a whole. Thus, even the milieu has been improvised to burn a bit more gently.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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