Friday, October 19, 2012

Neil C. Young El Camino Canadian American Records 2012

No...wrong Neil Young, but better guitar player having progressed well past learning that third chord! Neil C. Young is an up and coming guitarist from the U.K. who while establishing a well respected reputation on the international scene with the release of El Camino, Young is quickly turning heads here in the States! A double Grammy Award nominee in the improvised jazz solo (2011) and jazz instrumental category (2012), Young is doing his own riff on bands led by his contemporaries including John Scofield, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny.

There is a organic yet soulful quality to his voice on guitar. A slight bit of what I call the jazz nasty includes an  edgy style of fusion incorporating influences that run from bebop to bossa nova with just a splash of rock roots tossed in for flavor and texture. Harmonically, Young is charting his own course not to mention seven of the eight compositions contained on El Camino. For the uninitiated, "Sounds like..." is a bit unfair as every artist brings their own gift to the stage. Young's prolific talent is not so much who he may sound like but the presentation of the trio as one unified voice. Young's deceptively subtle swing combined with the funk infused groove of drummer Richard Young and for some the Jaco Pastorius first blood part two inspiration for bassist Alan Whitham are quickly separating this trio from the rest of the pack.

"Nutter Strut" opens the release with the clean punctuated sound of Young and a deep rich lyrical bass line from Whitham. Richard Young owns the pocket, swings hard and works as sort of a sonic adhesive to allow Young to stretch out shifting dynamics and meter at will. Kicking the swing up another notch is "The Wagon (it left without me) with the driving guitar and a unified lyrical sense of purpose the listener knows Young is indeed the real deal. Shifting meter without shifting attention away from the melody and avoiding the self indulgent sonic land mines so many young artists seem almost determined to set off has the harmonic table set for the harmonic hook of "Slashville" that stays with you long after the tune is over. "Bear Claw" is a funkalicious tune with an edgy groove and a rich harmonic excursion that slowly morphs into a blistering sonic exploratory. If all things Latin hit your musical sweet spot as they do mine "Scooter" has a smoldering Latin groove laid down just below the surface of the melody. The musical synergy brought about from this trio borders on the addictive. While initially sounding deceptively simple the nuances three stellar talents bring together make this a critics worst nightmare. Contemporary jazz? Jazz/rock? Fusion? Good music stands on its own and labels are for ingredients on food and El Camino will indeed feed that musical sweet spot. From the introspective ballad appropriately titled "Ballaed" to the more rock influenced "Slashville" the Neil C. Young trio is guaranteed to touch your heart and set your hair on fire all at the same time.

Nutter Strut; The Wagon (it left without me); Slashville; Anonaggen; Ballaed; Bear Claw; Scooter; Slaphead.

Personnel: Neil C. Young: guitar; Alan Whitham: bass; Richard Young: drums.

Available 11/20/12