The Jimi Project
What set James Marshall Hendrix apart was his approach just as much as his technique. And having seen Jimi perform, I am as sure as I can be that he would dig what Phil Brown and colleagues achieve on this album. For what Jimi visited upon the folksy Dylan tune ‘All Along The Watchtower’ is evoked by these readings of Hendrix songs.
Phil Brown is a phenomenally talented and original guitarist, not at all rated as highly as he should be – and recordings like this can only help turn music fans onto his exciting but deeply personal style.
It helps on this set to have the subliminal and subtle yet strong basslines of Jimmy Haslip, of Yellowjackets fame and the drum skills of Gary Novak, a most musical and ego-free drummer on the evidence of what we hear on this record and in his history. Essentially though, to understand Phil Brown’s guitar dynamic the listener has to appreciate what he chooses not to play. If you’ve heard any of the Hendrix ‘tribute’ albums put together by other musicians you will have heard the guitarists overdoing it, in spades. As if Jimi was about volume and speed ..and he wasn’t. I know, I saw the Experience play live.
On the original ‘Purple Haze’ the Experience stabbed out a glorious stomp of Octavia’d mayhem – but on Brown’s take, he sounds as though he’s woken from an interstellar dream. The voice growls, the rhythm has a stealthy tread. Likewise, ‘Manic Depression’ has a loping electric spaciness with stunning well-spaced axe runs ; Brown’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ floats on an amphetamined dirty chord cloud and that riff is nowhere to be heard.
Best of all, ‘If 6 Were 9’ is a trip and a half, harmonics ping and float off against cymbal splashes and the bass grunts like a sleeping creature. Trademark volume knob twiddles pepper the version..hypnotic. And check ‘You’ve Got me Floating’ for drive and spirit.
If you’re satisfied with re-treads there are lots of players out there doing just that – but if you want imagination, style and fireworks THIS is where you’ll find it