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Holdsworth-Pasqua-Haslip-Wackerman: Blues for Tony

The live document of the 2006 tour that celebrated the music of the late, great drummer Tony Williams and his 70's band The Tony Williams New Lifetime is finally here, an absolute marvel of a 2CD set called Blues for Tony. Former members of Lifetime Allan Holdsworth (guitar) and Dan Pasqua (keyboards) hooked up with Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip and veteran drum master Chad Wackerman for this tour, and the excitement has been captured here on this must hear release from Moonjune Records.

If you are not familiar with the Tony Williams Lifetime (any of their various incarnations), they were one of the pioneering jazz-rock-fusion bands that hit the scene in the late 60's and recorded throughout the early 70's alongside other acts such as Weather Report, Miles Davis, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Larry Coryell's The Eleventh House, Ian Carr's Nucleus, Soft Machine, and Brand X. The original line-up of Lifetime included guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young, but it was years later when Holdsworth and Pasqua joined that some of these magnificent songs were created. What's great about this set is that there are also some tunes from the individual members that are played here, and they run through them with the same fire and passion that The New Lifetime would have done over 30 years ago. Opening cut "Blues for Tony" is a song specifically written by the band for this tour, and it's an 11-minute stunner of a fusion romp, featuring jaw-dropping solos from the entire line-up. "The Fifth" is a Wackerman number with plenty of groove and a blazing solo from Holdsworth, while another band original "It Must Be Jazz" kicks off with some impressive stick work from Wackerman and complex lines from Haslip before Holdsworth's slippery, snakey guitar comes slithering into the mix.

Material from the classic album Believe It are probably what many fans want to hear, and they do not disappoint one bit. "Fred", with Pasqua's tasty electric piano and Wackerman's busy stick work is a fusion classic, and throw in Holdsworth's mercurial guitar solo and you have one of the CDs highlights. Let's not forget the equally impressive "Protocosmos", with Wackerman hitting all of Tony's old fills perfectly, and "Red Alert", which was always one of Believe It's heavier & funkier numbers and given royal treatment here. Holdsworth's "Pud Wud" and "Looking Glass" come from his more experimental late 80's synth-axe period, and provide this album's more atmospheric, jazzy, & laid back moments, but with plenty of room for gorgeous solo spots. Pasqua's "San Michele" is easily the CDs sleeper track, a near 12-minute piece featuring some crashing drum work from Wackerman, a sizzling Holdsworth solo, linear bass grooves from Haslip, and lovely electric piano tapestries from Pasqua.

From start to finish, Blues for Tony is a sheer joy to listen to, as four musicians come together to honor a legend and show us how each of them separately, as well as a unit, are legends themselves. This is jazz-fusion at its best folks.

Track Listing
CD 1
1) Blues for Tony
2) The Fifth
3) It Must Be Jazz
4) Fred
5) Pud Wud Intro
6) Pud Wud
CD 2
1) Looking Glass
2) To Jaki, George, and Thad
3) San Michele
4) Protocosmos
5) Red Alert

Added: October 27th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Moonjune Records
Hits: 4573
Language: english

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