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Niacin Review

by Robert Taylor

This is the debut recording of the power trio Niacin, comprised of organist John Novello, bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Dennis Chambers. The pet project of Sheehan, it is part acid jazz, part progressive rock, and part jazz-rock fusion, all built around Novello's dominating sound. They have obviously learned from some of fusion's previous pitfalls and keep the pyrotechnics to a minimum in deference to strong grooves, patient tension building, and memorable melodies. Chambers in particular exercises restraint and seems content to play "in the pocket," favoring his typically busy (in a good way) style. The session really belongs to Novello, who seems to have appeared from out of nowhere, as did this band, and emerged as a key voice on an underutilized instrument. His sound is steeped in the Jimmy Smith and Joey DeFrancesco schools, but he avoids sounding retro or like an imitator. Listeners were hungry for this type of music and were quick to respond to Niacin's soulful fusion. An excellent debut.

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