Bob Wolfman has a solid rep as a session guitarist, having been featured on hundreds of recordings by such notables as Chick Corea, Larry Coryell, Grover Washington, and a wealth of others. His name is so firm that Coryell, a towering giant in jazz-fusion guitar, produced Bob's latest CD and plays on it along with three other well known fusion figures: the redoubtable bassist Victor Bailey, pianist Ferdinando Argenti, and drummer Kennwood Dennard. Part of Larry's mission, though, was to bring Wolfman's singing to the front of the stage and that brought a wholly unexpected wrinkle to the table, as the guitarist's voice ranges from a Sinatra-esque nightclub tone (Guess Who I Saw Today) to a soul falsetto that would not be at all out of place on a Lonnie Liston Smith, a Phillip Bailey, or a Narada Michael Walden LP, even, should you remember this obscure but very cool 70s fusion ensemble, gliding into one of Nova's old slabs.
The recording, the engineering and mix, on this is frequently odd, though. On the title track, Wolfman lays down a long scorching lead solo highly reminiscent of Jeff Beck combining old Beck-Ola days with the hard rockin' Beck, Bogert, and Appice group, but his guitar is waaaay the heck recessed, the bass just as peculiarly miles up front. The resolve/outro in the very tail end is similarly out of timbre and context. Just as unfortunate is a lack of distinction in just who's playing what lead lines. As even liner writer Murali Coryell notes, it's sometimes difficult to tell who's playing what where, as in Seeds, with its incandescent solo. Is it Wolfman or Coryell? Both are equally capable, and a liner notation would've helped a lot.
Regardless, I'll listen to anything with Coryell on it, the guy's just a monster of the six string, and this is indeed a fusion CD, one that bears a lot of affinities with the materials of the 70s, cutting a tunefully fine line between jazz and rock as well as soul, blues, and that one American Songbook cut. Transition should find a lot of favor among Baby Boomers who remember just what a stew of diversity the old days embraced…as well as what a strange studio atmosphere could oft be transcribed. Sometimes ya just hadda swallow the over-obvious dub-ins and disequilibriums, and in distinctive cases, as here, that just emphasized a certain cheezoidness alongside all the spectacular playing. Bad? Not really, as Zappa clearly demonstrated in various ways, so that alone had a value to it when done right. I mean……you remember Shuggie Otis, don't ya?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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