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Holz, Bob: Visions: Coast To Coast Connection

As though the album title Visions: Coast To Coast Connection wasn’t wordy enough, the full recording name of the people behind this album is ‘Bob Holz with very special guest Stanley Clarke’ - phew! Holz, a drummer known for his work in the world of jazz fusion, and Return To Forever bassist Clarke, are long-time friends, so the high billing may not be that surprising. Although with the latter only appearing on two tracks from ten and another thirteen musicians involved, most of which add their magic to more of the songs, it is undoubtedly generous.

With little markers along the way, this album is a contemporary take on jazz fusion, although we’re operating more in the world of jazzed up soft rock than any sort of over exuberant bombastic workout. An album that’s often happy to allow the track titles to maybe be a little too literal, “Jammin’ Man” (one of the Clarke infused numbers) adds a reggae twist that’s signposted from a long way off, while “West Coast Blues” is exactly the sort of languid, bluesy swagger its name suggests, even if it stays firmly in the realms of jazz as it does so. “Spanish Plains”, as you’ll no doubt have gathered, brings a flavour of that country; Frank Stepanek the orchestrator of the mood as he plays guitar, bass and keyboards to Holz’s percussion. Much though these song titles are possibly a little too obvious, the execution of the music is beyond reproach and while it might be interesting to hear something of an edgier vibe on occasion, it doesn’t stop them being most enjoyable too.

The smooth but energetic vibe of “Split Decision” is a gently forceful diversion, while “Richie’s Trip”, which is dedicated to Richie Hayward of Little Feat, does a fine job of adding a swing and roll vibe to proceedings. Whereas it’s the Godfather of Fusion, Larry Coryell, who is nodded to reverentially on “Espresso Addiction” as Dave Porter provides the album’s only vocal in quite fine style.

Albums led by drummers are often a little too self indulgent, so it is to Holz’s great credit that Visions is anything but that. The only concession being that every song starts with a beat, a roll round the toms or a drum motif by way of (extremely) short introduction, before it gets to sharing its main message with you. It’s a nice little touch on an album filled with nice little touches and while, when taken in one sitting, things are maybe just a little too restrained, the diversity on show is admirable. Visions: Coast To Coast Connection might not reinvent the wheel, but it is a more than pleasant companion for an afternoon.

Track Listing
1. Split Decision
2. Espresso Addiction
3. Next In Line
4. Jammin Man
5. Richie's Trip
6. Pink Fur
7. West Coast Blues
8. Light & Dark
9. Spanish Plains
10. Flat Out

Added: July 18th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Bob Holz online
Hits: 923
Language: english

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