It's been quite a few years since The Whiskey Mountain Sessions was first released, but the musical conglomerate known as Hillmen are helping us kick off 2018 with Vol. II, roughly 40 minutes of instrumental jazz-fusion & jam improvisations. Comprised of Peter Hillmen (drums-Kiss the Frog), Gayle Ellett (keyboards-Djam Karet), Jeff Smith (bass-Insects vs Robots), and Lito Magana Jr. (guitar- Mestizo Beat), the Hillmen excel at locking into a groove and venturing off into expanded musical explorations. Opening cut "The Long Way Home" clocks in at just over 20-minutes, the groove laid back and allowing Ellet's electric piano to breathe and Magana's silky lead guitar to tell a story. It's not till halfway through the track that the drama picks up the pace, as the emergence of the Mini-Moog and blistering guitar solos soar over rumbling rhythms for a sound that brings to mind The Allman Brothers, Phish, Chick Corea, and The Grateful Dead. "The Mestizo Insect Frog Jam" has more of a funk feel, thanks to some fat bass lines and Magana's crisp guitar vamps, Ellett's Mini-Moog darting around the mix in grand Corea/Hammer/Hancock fashion, while "Fire Breather" again sees some adventurous Mini-Moog and Fender Rhodes doing battle with searing lead electric guitar (Carlos Santana fans take note!), with the drums flailing away underneath the mayhem. If you listened to this tune cold out of the blue, you'd swear this was some long lost jam from fusions early '70s glory days.
Recorded live in the studio without edits or overdubs, The Whiskey Mountain Sessions Vol. II is a credit to the marvelous talents and synergy that exists between these exceptional musicians. Don't miss this red hot set of all instrumental music, it's a great one!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. The Long Way Home (20:20)
2. The Mestizo Insect Frog Jam (10:07)
3. Fire Breather (8:58)