I have a LOT of guitar-based LPs, CDs, DVDS, and cassettes—hell, even 8-tracks! (no, I ain't kiddin')—but I'm not sure I've ever heard this before: a guitar trio immediately opening with lines of pure solo fret fancy perfectly epigramming what's to come, as bass and drums fall in behind and things get under way. In X amount of notes, axehandler Dave Kain not only intrigues the ears, not only presages just how adept he is, but also illuminates a brand of six-string intelligence quite removed from norms…or even abstractions, for that matter. In him, one hears the obvious influences of giants like Tal Farlow, John Abercrombie, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, and others, but even these are overshadowed by what he's made of his attendance upon their oeuvres.
No less a player than Vic Juris has called Kain "one of the best improvisers on today's contemporary scene", and I find zero reason to argue that, more and more placing the guy on the Abercrombie side of the house the further I listen. Still, one feels trepidatious in even that form of compliment because Dave's work is so fresh, so unencumbered by its own history, carrying no baggage whatsoever. Raising Kain is first and foremost guitar music for guitar lovers and then for everyone else. Even the ballads—On my Way Home f'rinstance—after lyrical intros soon fuse into illustrative chops only to fade back into pensées and meditations, harking back to elements of what Coryell and Towner were doing way back when in The Restful Mind.
No matter how complex the lead lines may get, there's never a sense of density, always wide open spaces and sunny skies. Bassist Thomsom Kneeland is the most retrained of the trio, content to flesh out the forms and perimeters beyond Kain's quotations while drummer Joe Abba fills in all the spaces left over. Hall Pass shows how dexterously he can execute change-ups while timekeeping. That ability to never remain in one place perfectly complements Kain's ceaselessly perambulating wont. The two chase each other all over the place while Kneeland yeomans the colorations…until he steps out front and the heart of his leashed animation is revealed, as in Logic, whereafter Kain hits the trouble switch (ask Mike Stern and Miles about that) and rocks out. This guy could burn the house down if he chose—he doesn't, but you know he could. Put him chockablock with a couple shredmeisters, and the ceiling would catch on fire.
Favorite cut? Impossible to pick, though I have to say the earlier mentioned semi-ballad, On my Way Home, remains long in the mind. Sometimes it's the more delicate compositions that really reveal the soul of the artist…or perhaps it's just the contrast. Either way, this CD is a treat. Perhaps some more capable crit than myself will figure out exactly what Kain's doing, but, for my money, I think we have another Larry Coryell in the fact that Dave prefers to break the rules while keeping them perfectly resonant below what he's invoking. After all, Larry was doing this sort of thing way back when, as a member of Gary Burton's band and elsewhere. It's all a matter of thought and attitude.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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