Setting out to recreate the sound of early 70s fusion icons Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, Fontanelle was formed years ago from the ashes of the space rock outfit Jessamine. Led by guitarist Rex Ritter and keyboardist Andy Brown, their latest release Vitamin F genuinely sounds like a mash up of Davis' Bitches Brew and Hancock's Headhunters. Augmented with horns and lots of guests, Vitamin F is possibly 2012's best fusion release.
Let's find out what this Portland, Oregon band is all about. First, the music is challenging, engaging and intelligent, taking its cues from jazz, fusion, post rock, avant-garde, ambient, and even a slice of doom metal. Most evident is -the homage it pays to Bitches Brew, along with an undertow of Hancock's Headhunters and Man-Child, all with the raw energy of a unified band. Add to that the phenomenon that is post rock with its tendency for extended, sometimes improvised pieces, providing for a pleasant successful cross over. Fusion fanatics with expansive record collections can cast their minds back to the exciting, innovative movement that is rooted in 70's jazz fusion, with links to the heavier side of music, such as John McLaughlin's sizzling guitar, the funky horns of the Brecker Brothers' and Jeff Beck's musicality.
With all of these influences the album provides for an eclectic mix of songs. It's part acoustic, part electric, but Fontanelle doesn't tie themselves down to a particular style, or burden themselves with a musical template that must be used at all times. Yet, so much more than that, there are moments of quiet, acoustic sounds, and also passages of fuzzified keyboards, soaring guitars, along with a sprinkle of space rock leaning on electronica. This is jazz for the new millennium, in spite of any '70s influences, the band is really letting loose with wave after wave of musical themes and ideas.
Fusion fans will immediately like this album, for me it has been an engaging find. Those not yet familiar with this musical genre, then Vitamin F could be the ideal place to start. It's a great album and well worth checking out. My late discovery of this band has propelled me to venture into their back catalog. Highly recommended.
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