Of the quartet of superb LateSet releases (Gilad Hekselman here, Amanda Monaco here, and Davy Moony here), Peter Mazza's going to be the most satisfying to the fusion crowd. As with the others, he blends in some covers with a rounded klatsch of his own tunes, but this fretbender tears right into the heart of the matter from the very first second in a flurry of dizzying notes in Burned. As with his labelmates, the sax gets considerable ground, but Mazza's voice isn't lost for a second when matched against that strident instrument. Pay close attention to the guy's chords in the latter part of the cut and see why: even when stepping back, he remains quite inventive.
The emphasis of the LateSet credo seems to lie in a preservation and advancement of what opened up after Miles had secured territory even for guitarists. Kessel, Ellis, and others had previously been pointing the way, but In a Silent Way broke all the molds, and six-string thinking evolved considerably. That effect has been far from exhausted; 'neglected' would be the wiser verb. LateSet's determined to resuscitate the period back to its rightful Valhalla. This is explicitly heard in the funkified Testa Rossa, again with a riveting opening sequence of a chordal ostinato from Mazza that turns into cascading declensions on the refrain. Where Monaco took McLaughlin's subtler side, Mazza grabbed his brain-on-fire tendencies and shook 'em up, especially in the solo, which is very much his own.
On the darkly melancholy My Funny Valentine, the gent opens with Mahavishnu minor-key chords fingerpicked, maintains them throughout, then erupts a lead line fierily within the middle eight without damping the chords. Other players are going to grin at the temerity of his approach—it's clever as hell, a way of getting maximal effect from narrow perimeters. The entire CD is an interesting blend of balladry and volcanic fusion cemented in jazz, not rock, and it regains territory many, myself included, feared forsaken. Where the CandyRat label deservedly claims prominence for its boundary-slashing approach, it may be that LateSet will be its equal in excellence through restoring a niche still very much crucial to the development of the genre…
…and Larry Coryell need lay awake nights no longer.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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