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Neal Schon - Vortex


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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The lead guitarist for classic rockers Journey steps out here for this 2-CD set containing 27 instrumental tracks. Schon has former Journey drummer Steve Smith along for the ride and the two make quite a statement on opening track "Miles Beyond," a tribute to Miles Davis with soaring leads from Schon and African drum flourishes from Smith; the song eventually evolves into a fairly straight-ahead fusion rocker with the only further hints of exotica coming from the Middle Eastern flavor of some of Schon's riffs. Schon also handles the bass chores on Vortex while keys men Igor Len and frequent Schon collaborator Jan Hammer round out the band. Most of "El Matador" sounds only vaguely Latin, but enough so that you can envision the piece sound tracking a (very speedy!) bullfight, while the melancholy "Eternal Love" forgoes the album's fusion sound; it is a delicate piece featuring only Len on piano. It's back to fluid fusion for "Irish Cream," a tasty number where Smith's drumming brings a Celtic march to mind, and "Triumph of Love," a languorous cut that sounds quite kingly for the bulk of the song but that ends on a mellow note as if basking in the afterglow of a quite thorough demonstration of the love that's referred to in the song's title. The Journey completist will want to add Vortex to their collection at some point but fusion lovers and guitar heads should pick this one up right away.

Neal Schon - Vortex
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