Saturday, June 2, 2012

CD Review: Frank Gambale “Soulmine” featuring Boca


Frank Gambale Soulmine (feat. Boca)

Australian guitar virtuoso Frank Gambale, who is credited with reinventing the ‘sweep picking’ technique in guitar playing (where a 'sweeping' motion of the pick is combined with a matching fret hand technique, often used to play arpeggios, to produce a fast and fluid  sound. Despite being known as a picking technique, both hands essentially perform an integral motion in unison to achieve the desired effect. Tal Farlow and jazz guitarist Chuck Wayne used it extensively on records in the ‘40s). Regardless of who invented the technique, there is no denying that Gambale uses it to great effect, and elevated it to a precise art form especially when he combines it with ‘economy picking’ and ‘alternate picking’ techniques and his special ‘Gambale tunings’.

Gambale made his mark on jazz-fusion with breathtaking live performances with the likes of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Lenny White and Jean-Luc Ponty and the fusion legends, Return To Forever. Gambale has released numerous instrumental albums over the years that not only showcase the techniques that he championed, invented and reintroduced to a generation of guitar players – from Jazz, rock, metal and progressive players– to awe inspiring praise. Chick Corea said, “Everything you touch with your guitar turns gold – always has.” While John McLaughlin’s tongue-in-cheek response to his finesse is “I’d like to cut his hands off.” But, he is also, technique aside, a great player whose genius for the instrument would have stood out from the crowd in any genre.

Here, he offers up a career pinnacle recording of vocal pop/jazz/adult hip cool harmonically astounding songs with a collaborator he  has been search for for a good long while. His wife, BOCA. Check out this first single;

“Forbidden Kiss” by Frank Gambale & BOCA from the album Soulmine

You don’t have to have sophisticated tastes in music to realize this is no ordinary ‘include the wife” recording. BOCA’s talent as both a songwriter and singer were recognized at an early age in her native Toronto. To harness this talent – for you never tame this kind of fiery natural gift – she attended the Jazz Program at Humber College School of Creative and Performing Arts. Her delivery is strong, sultry, bluesy and she brings something to the jazz stage that many American jazz singers lack now a days, a vision to take the voice outside of the traditional jazz realm and make it something more alluring, refreshing the genre. There is an intense focus, yet wildness in her performance, and as if the voice of an angel who has met devils and wrestled and won, isn’t enough. She has dark, stunning good looks to match.

Gambale has met his match, and he is made whole by the experience, both artistically and on a personal level. BOCA is the perfect collaborator, and draws forth from his guitar a fantastically wonderful album. His musicianship is top drawer, maybe the best of his outstanding career output, and that is really saying something.  His guitar has never wept the blues so bluesy, his technique has never been more astounding and his tone so cool, ice-fiery. And to compliment this perfect union Victor Wooten and Joel Taylor set a groove that’s so tight in the pocket, you’d think it was a Scotsman's last shilling. You’ll find this album in the “Smooth Jazz” bin, but this is so much more than smooth jazz involved here. It is jazz remade for the 21st century, it is where jazz needs to go to grow. The guitar and vocals weave around each other, forever ensnared in a beauty that is funky and cool at the same time.

Sophisticated jazz meets funky R&B and dresses up in glittery pop while bopping to hot Latin and Brazilian beats so subtle and so mesmerizing you’ll be tempted to shed some clothes.

I can’t recommend this one enough, debuted at Anthology on May 3rd, it hit the street on May 22nd.

Put Frank Gambale Soulmine (feat. Boca) on your summer play list, then hit play and watch the sparks fly.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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