Jon Wirtz is one of those composers and keyboard players who takes fusion jazz down a whole different road via a drawerful of influences—Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays, Bruce Hornsby, Medeski, Martin & Wood, The Necks, Mark-Almond Band, etc.—and then adds a generous slice of his own very unorthodox yet perfectly understandable mind generating a plethora of sounds stopping you in your tracks yet still giving the impression he's one funky-ass folk musician…though he's not…and yet he is. Tourist is an enigmatic but very accessible work, and I'm not really sure why. At times, it seems as though Terence Trent Darby's going to start crooning and then James Taylor after that, just before Randy Crawford jumps in with her marvelous refrains, and then, turning from the nightclubs and avenue lounges, Wirtz is off to wide open plains where the lights of the big city sparkle only faintly in the distance.
Small wonder, then, with such chamelonry, that he's shared stages with as wide an expanse of talent as Robbie Krieger, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Melissa Ethridge, Justin Timberlake, and others. Tourist is almost completely instrumental, and Country combines Dave Brubeck with Randy Newman (his instrumental wont) with B.J. Cole (in John Macy's pedal steel), but throughout the CD, a very pronounced pastorality is felt, sometimes almost hayseed, other times George Winstonian, still other times heel kickin' and rambunctious, frisky, the country cousin of Joe Jackson. The CD's cover photo grounds everything—a snap of a lonely shack on the Great Plains under a huge moody sky—but it's really just the backdrop against which everything else is painted. I can't say how well this release is going to go over, but among musicians and critics, it should do very well indeed, be a much-talked-about item for years. You just don't run across this kind of music every day, Hoss, and when you do, you remember it. Trust me.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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