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Jack Mazzenga's Space-Time Trip: Had To Say

February 18, 2014
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Fretless guitarist Jack Mazzenga goes to town on this rollicking instrumental disc, ably backed by bassist Jim Petti and drummer Michael Thompson, and joined on three tracks by fellow fretless virtuosi Neil Haverstick and Ned Evett. Although the 15 tunes are rooted in various idioms—hard rock, country rock, blues, R&B, surf, etc.— the heavily caffeinated arrangements and Mazzenga’s fiery licks and edgy tones provide requisite stylistic identity. And, while aspects of the guitarist’s phrasing and ornamentation clearly stem from a fingerboard unfettered by frets, his approach is refreshingly free of fretless antics. Highlights include the horn-driven R&B workout “Cereal Killer” (featuring trumpeter Mitch Goldman and tenor sax and flute man Joe Brown, with searing solos by Evett and Haverstick), the white-hot and insanely angular lines on “Lefthanded Compliment,” and the solo resonator piece “New Tax Blues.” Jack Mazzenga Music.

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