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Sudakow, James: Green

Here's an interesting instrumental album from electric violinist James Sudakow, titled Green. This heavy fusion affair features Sudakow on distorted electric violin (played through a Marshall amp and using a variety of effects) and he is joined by drummer David Gaziel, bassist Matt Bissonette, and Eric Zimmermann, who produced and added programming.Green is comprised of six instrumentals, all named after specific colors, and featuring a myriad of styles and textures. The opener "Black" is a raucous fusion burner, while the more spacey "Purple" has some Tangerine Dream elements to coincide with searing violin melodies. Interestingly enough, Sudakow lists musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Vernon Reid, Dave Navarro, and John McLaughlin, all guitarists, as inspiration. The latter is very evident on "Purple", as the violinist's speedy and distorted flights sound more like McLaughlin from the Birds of Fire days of the Mahavishnu Orchestra than other violinists from that same period, like Mahavishnu's own Jerry Goodman, or even Jean Luc Ponty.

"Orange" is a more rhythmic, progressive rock sounding number, with great playing from veteran Bissonette and drummer Gaziel, who provide a rock solid foundation for some amazing violin solos from Sudakow. His ability to utilize distortion and feedback is uncanny, and something that many guitar players have trouble mastering. This tune also is remarkable for the amount of heavy riffs the violin ace throws at the listener. Classical meets fusion on the Mahavishnu sounding "Green", a gorgeous piece that slows things down just a bit and allows for Sudakow's haunting violin passages to permeate the landscape alongside the melodic lead bass of Bissonette. But be prepared, things don't stay mellow for too long, as just when you start to get lulled into a calm state, James blasts forth with some shredding, molten shards of violin fury alongside Gaziel's pounding drum beats. The blistering hoedown of "Red" is up next, a complex and heavy number with raging rhythms and intricate lead violin lines, somewhat of a cross between The Dixie Dregs, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Boud Deun, KBB, and King Crimson. Heavy and violent stuff indeed! The closing "Blue" is a bouncy fusion number, with spacey synth melodies, funky bass licks, and Sudakow's searing violin passages.

Chances are the name James Sudakow is going to be much talked about in the prog rock and fusion community shortly after the word of just how good this CD gets out. Green is a dramatic and exciting collection of instrumental songs that show just how scary a talent this violinist is. I for one would love to see him hook up with a hot guitarist and keyboard player, add in Gaziel and Bissonette, and you would have one of the most lethal fusion machines alive today.

Frighteningly good...

Track Listing
1 Black
2 Purple
3 Orange
4 Green
5 Red
6 Blue

Added: February 23rd 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 3661
Language: english

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Sudakow, James: Green
Posted by Keith Hannaleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-02-23 15:33:48
My Score:

Electric violin player James Sudakow credits rock guitarists with giving him the inspiration to create his musical progressive rock expedition. The list is impressive, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction), and Vernon Reid (Living Colour) are the top three six-string innovators that Sudakow points to as his mentors in sound.

Green is the title of Sudakow's six-track CD. This instrumental assault of the senses focuses on six basic colors, all of course different in every way. The cover of the CD is very expressive with all the colors as well. Some folks may think right away because of the tie die image on the cover that this is something relating to jamband music, which would be way off base. Think of Jean-Luc Ponty on mescaline or David Ragsdale on speed, Sudakow is very different, in a good way.

"Black" is the opening track and it begins with some powerful and prolific drums that really get your blood pumping through your arteries, then Sudakow kicks it into high gear with some crazy violin playing, think of guitar shredding but with a violin. It is not that hard to imagine because after you listen a few times it starts sounding like a guitar. Then as you get towards the end of the recording and "Blue" starts, the violin sounds more synthesized, like keyboards. This is one example of the radical changes he takes the violin through from one composition to the next.

After taking all of it in you start to realize the concept behind this entire project-it is to show you the listener, all the different colors that the violin is capable of creating within the musical spectrum. It does not hurt that Sudakow has two band mates that know their chops; it fleshes out his overall sound nicely. David Gaziel (drums) and Matt Bissonette (bass) make for an outstanding rhythm section. Once I stopped for a moment to reflect upon it all after intently listening for the second time I realized that the three instruments combining their strengths started sounding more like an army of musicians.

This music requires several listens before you really understand what Sudakow is accomplishing through his music. I will be the first to admit that after hearing this the first time I was not too sure, but that just means I needed to listen again to get an entirely different outlook on another day. Without fail, this works for me, especially when a CD has merits like Green.

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