After his triumphant return with the rest of the classic Santana line-up for their recent release IV and subsequent tour, drum legend Michael Shrieve isn't about to stop to catch his breath, as he's already gotten back in the saddle in another project, this time the instrumental outfit Spellbinder alongside keyboard player Joe Doria, guitarist Danny Godinez, bassist Farko Dosumov, and trumpet player John Fricke. Based out of Seattle, Washington, Spellbinder proves to be a worthy ensemble for the gifted 66 year old drummer, as his skillful jazz chops fit in well with these stellar musicians as they have together created here an exciting, melodic, and quite frequently daring blend of jazz-fusion, blues, funk, pop, and Latin flavors.
"Pop Reladrao" kicks things off in fine fashion, a somewhat rocking burst of funk & jazz energy that relies heavily on groove, complemented by stabbing trumpet, guitar, and keyboards, while the blazing "One" will certainly appeal to Santana fans with its Latin beats, irresistible trumpet melody, and tasty guitar licks. Godinez is the star on "Renewal", seemingly an homage to the great Jeff Beck circa his Blow By Blow album, as he tosses out yearning, melancholy cries sprinkled with some savage, speedy bursts, easily signaling a new heavy hitter on the jazz guitar scene. Shrieve & Dosumov dig deep with some tumultuous and quite addicting grooves on "Darkside", another great jazz number with a healthy dose of funk that also features some tasty Hammond organ and trumpet. Other highlights include the flamenco strains of "Trilioni", the smoky B-3 driven "I Don't Believe You", the Weather Report influenced "Grump", and the complex Latin jazz of "Market", the latter almost sounding like a weird marriage of Return to Forever, Santana, and Miles Davis with its funky grooves, intricate tempo changes, bleating trumpet, and sizzling guitar solos. If you like the sound of that, then "Bridge the Gap" is also going to trill you, with the leader especially getting in plenty of acrobatic drum work throughout amid some soaring melodies and dramatic arrangements.
Fans of contemporary jazz-fusion will eat this stuff up all day, and I think any fan of Michael Shrieve has to be delighted that we've gotten two fabulous recordings from him between the latest Santana album and now this wonderful release over the span of a few months. Michael Shrieve is back folks, and in a big way!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) Pop Raladrao
8) I Don't Believe You
11) Bridge the Gap