Frank Gambale

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One has to give high marks to guitarist and composer Frank Gambale. While an unabashed jazz-rock fusioneer, Gambale has always made music that was as interested in lyricism and inventive harmonic interplay as complex riffs and arpeggios. Gambale is a composer of the first order and, as he has gotten older, his writing style has become increasingly engaging melodically; his sense of harmonic architecture is full of shapes and colors and is weighted by use of the imagination that indulges flights of whimsy. He also understands on a cellular level the importance of ensemble communication. Accompanied by Billy Cobham on drums and either Ric Fierabracci or Steve Billman on bass, Gambale offers listeners 12 new cuts that range from a near singing quality ("Foreign Country," "Bittersweet," "Table for One") to a harder-edged jazz full of knotty yet emotionally charged and conscious improvisation ("May the Fourths Be With You," "Smug," "Complex Emotions"). Certainly this is a guitar player's record, but it is one that has its roots in aesthetic beauty rather than in mechanics.

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