Blues For Tony
Blues For Tony (Buy)
Holdsworth's classic "Fred," Pasqua's equally iconic "Protocosmos" and Lifetime bassist Tony Newman's energetic "Red Alert" are all there from Believe It, New Lifetime's now iconic first release, but here stretched out with plenty of space for relentless soloing from everyone in the group. The 2006/2007 tours would have a lasting affect on Pasqua, inspiring him to return to higher octane fusion for his solo recordings. On Blues for Tony, he plays with the kind of unfettered abandon and deep sophistication that so defined his work with Williams, a direction he largely deserted for more elegant acoustic outings like 1995's Dedications, from which the darkly balladic "San Michele" is culled, but is here reinvented as a potential fusion classic, with its Mahavishnu Orchestra-like arpeggios, Pasqua's gritty electric piano and Wackerman's thundering kit.
In addition to material from Believe It, the group revisits two of Holdsworth's own well-known classics: the change-heavy "Looking Glass," from 1985's Atavachron, and funkier "Pud Wud" from 1990's Sand, the latter opening with an atmospheric unaccompanied solo from Holdsworth that asserts his continued dominance as one of jazz's most harmonically distinctive players, and Haslip's most impressive solo of the set - the perfect confluence of pure virtuosity and in-the-moment melodic composition. Holdsworth's velvety smooth tone is more vocal-like than it's ever been, but equally there's an edge that's reemerged in recent years but has remained undocumented - until now.
Wackerman contributes "The Fifth", undisputable evidence that fusion can swing. Easily filling the late Tony Williams' shoes by honoring his spirit rather than imitating him, his playing on Blues for Tony finds the nexus point of spare economy and unabashed power. Pushing "Protocosmos" and the opening section of the collective composition "It Must Be Jazz" with visceral groove, Wackerman also demonstrates, in the latter song's second half, an equal propensity for greater freedom. He works hand-in-glove throughout with Haslip, who may have grown up as a fan of New Lifetime, but is now an unequivocal equal and perfect fit for the group's combination of technical prowess and masterful interplay.
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