Ed DeGenero: Less Is Seldom More

Stylistically varied doesn’t begin to describe the music on this disc.

Stylistically varied doesn’t begin to describe the music on this disc. Opening with 1:32 of unaccompanied blues licking, followed by one of several compositions from Chris Taylor that calls to mind modern-day Beck and McLaughlin peppered with ’80s Miles and Weather Report, it barrels down the fusion tracks at breakneck speed for two more pieces before settling into Matte Henderson’s impressionistic and comparatively pastoral “Matte's Bible Camp.” Then its back aboard the nu-fusion train for a string of jazz-metal-world-electronica mashups, including a revamped version of the Zawinul homage “Joe Z.” from DeGenaro’s previous CD, a surprisingly faithful cover of Robben Ford’s “The Brother (For Jimmie & Stevie),” and the hyper-billy shred romp “Neck Bone.” Contributing to the variety is the mere number of musicians, including bassists Trip Wamsley, Ric Fierabracci, and Ezekiel; drummers Dave Weckl, Joel Rosenblatt, and Marco Minnemann; organist George Whitty; vocalist Gwen Snyder; guitarists Dave Simpson and Ray Gomez (yes that Ray Gomez); and multi-instrumentalists Taylor and Henderson. Despite the wildly eclectic musical contexts, however, there is one constant—DeGenaro’s playing. Slicing and dicing clever loops, holding down a groove, adding tricky fills and counter melodies, boldly stating a theme, or blowing solos with manic abandon, the guitarist squeezes every last drop of himself into his performances. There’s plenty of shredding—and even a bit of showing off—but for the most part whether DeGenaro is playing his trademark fretless instruments or mere mortal guitars he keeps it musical, emphasizing clear articulation and nuanced phrasing over mere callisthenic pyrotechnics. If you like your fusion writ large and varied, you’ll dig this smokin’ CD. Unfretted.