Russell, Ray: Now, More Than Ever
Veteran British jazz-fusion guitar virtuoso Ray Russell has taken seven years to follow up his last masterpiece Goodbye Svengali, but let me tell you, Now, More Than Ever was worth the wait. With a stellar cast of guest musicians to help him create his musical vision that includes; Anthony Jackson (Bass); Jimmy Johnson (Bass); Mo Foster (Bass); George Baldwin (Bass); Gary Husband (Drums); Ralph Salmins (Drums); Jim Watson (Keyboards); Rupert Cobb (Trumpet), you just know that quality stuff was going to happen here.

The CD kicks off with “The Island”, a scorching jazz-rock rave-up featuring scorching guitar lines from Russell, and a must hear for anyone into John McLaughlin’s glory days in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Johnson’s slippery bass lines and Watson’s tasty electric piano play off Russell’s abundance of complex chords and legato lines on the mysterious gem “Shards of Providence”, while the melodic strains of “Way Back Now” are just haunting, as the guitarist fires off some beautiful notes and then gets all aggressive in the spirit of Terje Rypdal, Allan Holdsworth, and Eric Johnson. Some nice organ from Watson on this tune as well. The bluesy “Slow Day” features some screaming guitar solos, and “Suddenly, They Are Gone” is an emotional number dripping with Russell’s yearning, poignant melodies. On “Rubber Chicken Diner”, the guitarist, along with Salmins, Watson, and Foster, lock into a serious groove and deliver some delicious blues rock with a touch of jazz, as Russell tosses all sorts of jagged shards of molten guitar thunder at the listener for a fiery touch. “Odd Way Out” mixes funk with spacy atmospherics, and the short meditative piece “Cab in the Rain” closes things out in tranquil fashion.

Now, More Than Ever is another brilliant instrumental release from a guitarist who certainly deserves more acclaim around the world than he is probably getting. Containing some stunning guitar work, well thought out compositions, and a great cast of veteran musicians, this is a CD that any jazz-fusion fan will want to investigate and enjoy. Well done!

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