7 for 4 — Splash
(MGI Records MGR 1026, 2014, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-11-05
The world has no shortage of technically difficult instrumental music, and the genre of jazz-rock fusion supplies a significant portion of it. Difficulty on its own is neither a positive nor a negative factor — unless you're some kind of technique junkie who gets off on fast riffs and lightning unison lines. The trick is to make it musical enough to appeal to non-fetishists. 7 for 4, led by German guitar teacher Wolfgang Zenk, who also handles the keyboards and all the composition, range pretty wide stylistically, from classic fusion to country-inflected rave-ups (rather along the lines of what Dixie Dregs did on their classic material). As you might expect from someone whose day job is teaching guitar, Zenk utilizes pretty much every known technique on his instrument, and tosses off flurries of 32nd notes with seeming effortlessness. But in the midst of all the flashy playing, there are some solid tunes with good melodies, and the diversity of the writing keeps it from sounding all the same. Bassist Markus Grützner and drummer Klaus Engl supply what's needed, but Zenk is clearly the focal point. There's a long continuum between the sloppy fumbling of inexperienced players and the quantized precision of completely programmed music; 7for4 is firmly entrenched quite a ways down toward the precision end of the scale, so no doubt many listeners will find the music overly technical. While my personal taste generally favors music that is less meticulous in execution, Zenk and company won me over with this release. Though I would like to hear them loosen up a bit and sound like they're having more fun.
Related artist(s): 7 for 4
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more