I just sat down with Joop Wolters' newest contribution to progressive music Speed, Traffic and Guitar Accidents, and sum it up with a word: awesome! Those who have heard Joop's work in his group Arabesque or on the many tribute albums he has worked on, know that this guy can play. It's tough to put this guy in a box as far as his style, because he emulates so many so well. He also happens to play most of the instruments on the disc. Allow me to convey what I heard in this innovative work.
Listening to "Speed..." on a dark highway in upstate NY, I was able to concentrate on his complex composition, innovative style, and respectful references to some truly capable players. You will hear the Petrucci and DT et.al. stuff, odd times with a really good feel and swing, and some crystal clear production. But what really impressed me was Joop's "jazzer" sensibility. He doesn't lock himself into an Yngwie-like classical box when he writes, nor does he simply shred for the sake of it. His composition is mature, complex, and surprisingly upbeat and fun.
We prog listeners and players like to believe that we have some pretty refined listening abilities (patting our supermen selves firmly on the back), so it was fun to pick out the Mike Stern, Al Dimeola, and even Spyro Gyra-like structure, tones, and qualities. You will no doubt pick out a few of your own. Another key to this CD is that each tune rarely goes over 4 minutes. This is a huge breakthrough for prog players who usually can rarely get their messages out in less than an epic. I am not saying that I do not appreciate a good concept album, but this is the kind of thing that could bring with it greater commercial success--something missing from much of even the best progressive bands.
If I end up here sounding like a cheerleader, what can I say? Those who know me know that I am not easily impressed. Simply stated, Joop Wolters can play with anyone anywhere. Go out and buy a copy of this great work. We need to get this guy over here in America for a tour. Europe has had this guy to itself for too long. For me, Speed, Traffic and Guitar Accidents, is the instrumental album of the year.
3. A Day And This
6. Beggin For ATrip To The Stars
7. Cruising For The Soul
9. To The G And Back
12. Some Time To Spare
13. The Crash
14. Meka Dance
15. Canned Heat
16. Avenue Le Reinnescance
17. Split Decision