Frank Briggs

China Ranch

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On China Ranch, Frank Briggs gives a Return to Forever-esque treatment to ten killer tracks that display strong drumming and soloing on Rhodes, synths, guitar, and bass. The compositions, inspired by a visit to a family-owned date farm in the Mojave Desert, keep an eye on the jazz-rock fusion tradition pioneered by such influences as Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Pat Metheny, and others, while still moving the genre forward. On "Desert Flower," the solos run the gamut from lush modern electronics and dramatic harmonies to wide-open solo sections for Kit Walker on Rhodes and Brian Price on guitar. Briggs' powerful and rhythmic drumming keeps this song musically focused, energetic, and shifting freely between the jazz and rock elements. "Tecopa Moon" may be too hip for the room, as they say, since the laid-back ambience and walking basslines integral to Briggs' arrangement take an electronic marvel to another level of melodic excellence. The feel shifts from the very beginning and the tempo ranges from Briggs' moderately slow drumming and soundscapes to the lightning-fast guitar licks of both Price and Jeff Miley. The title track, "China Ranch," features twists and turns with surprises and a funky groove that will have listeners enjoying themselves throughout the musical ride. The entire recording is beautifully conceived and expertly crafted, and is a must for fans of jazz-rock fusion.

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