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Allan Holdsworth and Alan Pasqua

Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua, Jimmy Haslip, Chad Wackerman - Blues for Tony

Review by Gary Hill

A live album, this is some killer fusion. Since fusion includes both jazz and rock and since Allan Holdsworth has been in several prog outfits, I consider this progressive rock. It’s all instrumental and all nearly all incendiary. It’s a great disc and must have been an excellent concert. Holdsworth is one of the best guitarists out there and the rest of the band are equally talented. If you like fusion you will love this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Blues for Tony

There’s a killer nervous tension to the rhythmic pattern on this fusion jam. It’s got hints of King Crimson’s Red period, but with more of a pure jazz element on display. They take us through a lot of varied sections and it seems like everyone gets a chance to shine. There’s an extended drum solo as part of this shining process.

Fifth

More pure fusion, this is mellower and more melodic. It still finds chances to amaze, though.

It Must Be Jazz

This is more powerhouse fusion, but there is an almost Dixie Dregs-like groove at times. It gets rather noisy at points, but also wanders out into space. Mid track it drops to a very sedate movement, too.

Fred

More melodious, this one gets pretty frantic at times. The keyboards really dominate the majority of the track. It’s a nice change of pace. It does become more cacophonous at points.

Guitar Intro

Although this says it’s guitar, you wouldn’t believe it at first. It’s ambient and pretty and rather spacey, but it’s also just a little ominous.

Pud Wud

The bass really dominates here and at times this fusion piece is quite funky. It’s a real work out, that much is certain. Other instruments take more of a prominent role later and this becomes a bit on the scorching side later, too.

Disc 2
Looking Glass
They start this off in a pretty typical fusion motif and carry on like that for a while. A piano solo later, though, brings some tasteful variety to the table. They continue a bit more melodically from there. Around the five and a half minute mark it dissolves into space for a time and then gets reborn in a new guitar dominated movement.
To Jaki, George and Thad

A piano solo this works through a number of musical themes and flavors and serves as a good bit of variety.

San Michele

More pure guitar driven fusion, this one takes us through a number of flavors and changes. When they drop it way down later we get another drum solo, but this one has some accompaniment.

Protocosmos

Here’s a fairly melodic fusion piece. It’s good, but perhaps not all that different from the rest of the music here. That said, it’s still quite tasty and doesn’t really feel redundant. It just makes it hard for a reviewer to differentiate it from the others.

Red Alert
Now, this is incredibly cool. It’s definitely kind of funky and there’s a cool retro sound that dominates this – especially on the keyboards. Think of Herbie Hancock in a way. At least that’s the motif of the first portion of the piece. This is quite an enjoyable number that works through several changes and alterations. There are some Crimson-like segments, too.
 
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