The Paisley Album – Fro
Some musicians wear their influences on their sleeves. Others discuss them
on their websites.
Bridgeport-bred guitarist Fro prefers the latter and hints at the former.
Playing a mix of jazz, funk, and hard rock, Fro’s website puts the
guitarists’ influences into words: he has the "jazz vocabulary of Miles
Davis and the rock edge of Metallica." On The Paisley Album, Fro jams
these two divergent approaches into 11 concise cuts, laying a jazz-funk
background and playing quick, hard riffs over his sedate musical scenery.
An occasional contributor to Deep Banana Blackout, The Bomb Squad, and each
group’s barrage of off-shoots, Fro’s marriage of jazz and funk is not the
first union of these styles. The sound is nothing new, even if his hard-rock
guitar style is an interesting contrast from wah-wah peddle and jazzy jams
of most modern fusion groups. But Fro’s newest disc is an enjoyable
variation of a familiar sound.
Perhaps the best way to describe The Paisley Album is a family
reunion; a loose collection of familiar faces and sunny sounds. Surrounded
by such friends as Deep Banana Blackout’s Eric Kalb and Johnny Durkin, it’s
interesting to see what the guitarist sounds like when placed at the
forefront of a familiar jazz-funk collective. When Fro adds a taste of
trance to "Iced Reality" and its reprise, he doesn’t break any new ground.
Yet, he manages to lead his ensemble through some tight changes, which
changes from rock to funk to spacey jazz without missing a beat.
Hidden within each track is rock solid drumming by Kalb and bouncy
percussion by Durkin. Though Dave Savitsky’s alto sax is largely used to
support Fro, the hornman takes bright solos throughout, giving the album a
Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock feel. In fact, the 11-minute epic "Mr. Clean"
hints at what Herbie would sound like if he played Lollapalooza. "Mr. Clean"
is polished groove music, mixing jazzy jams and several arena rock solos.
Though at times the disc sounds like generic jazz-funk, it always succeeds
in its mix of these intertwined styles. The disc’s quirky titles portray
Fro’s fun side, further proof that the guitarist likes nothing more than
playing funk. All together, his disc remains tight and cohesive: fast,
furious, and always funky.