Jack Vees

The Restaurant Behind the Pier

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    5
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A showpiece for solo bass guitar (with and without overdubbing), this CD serves as testimony to Vees' varied musical background as an alt-rock bass player (with Forever Einstein, among other groups), a contemporary classical composer, and a sonic explorer who is intent upon pushing the boundaries of his instrument. The program opens with an excellent interpretation of Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression," with Vees' intense distorted fuzz bass sounding like a heavy metal lead guitar with a chest cold. Equally fine is Vees' accurate, melodic reprise of Paul McCartney's famous bassline from "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," which shows off Vee's control of harmonic nuances and emphasizes the contrapuntal sophistication of the original melody. On the almost new-ageish title piece, Vees hammers the fretboard, producing delicate, chiming harmonics which create a sound similar to a cymbalon or autoharp. "John Henry" and "Surf Music II" are on the abstract end of the scale, with the former a rhythmic exercise in feedback and distortion, and the latter (which is perhaps the single most impressive selection on the CD) a ghostly, hypnotic 22-minute drone piece that sounds more like something played on a "ong string" installation than on a bass guitar. The varied program does not work in favor of continuity, but that's a small price to pay for such a display of the bass guitar's possibilities.

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