The spirit of Brand X is alive and well and permeating throughout this latest release from Tunnels, featuring legendary bassist Percy Jones and guitarist John Goodsall. The nucleus of the band is Jones, Marc Wagnon on midi vibes, and Frank Katz on drums, with Goodsall, violinist Marc Feldman, and vocalist Sarah Pillow each appearing on a few tracks. The music is sophisticated and flowing progressive fusion, with lots of atmospheric jazz grooves and complex rock arrangements.
The reunion of sorts between Jones and Goodsall is enough to give most goosebumps, and on "Wall to Wall" the two, combined with Feldman serve up a searing song featuring mind-boggling guitar and violin solos. Wagnon's midi vibes fill in the gaps where an organ or electric piano would be, and give all the songs a rich tonal color, especially on the warm "Frank's Beard", which sounds like an outake from Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. Fans of the gymnastic bass style of Jones will be pleased to know that there are plenty of slippery and melodic grooves throughout this CD. His use of harmonics adds another dimension to his finger popping style, which at times is very reminiscant of the late Jaco Pastorius. The band goes for an extended jam on the twenty minute "7,584,333,440 Miles Away", which highlights amazing interplay between all the musicians. Goodsall especially really burns here, with all the fire and intensity of a young Al DiMeola or John McLaughlin.
Those lamenting the possibility that there might never be a full-blown reunion of Brand X, fear not. Tunnels is about as close as you can get right now, and this new CD is a fine example of fiery fusion.