Hectic Watermelon — The Great American Road Trip
(Predator Fish PF 3346, 2006, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01Hectic Watermelon is less a band than a solo project built around the talents of guitarist John Czajkowski. For this album he's assembled a capable trio to back him that includes bass (Harley Magsino), drums (Darren Debree), as well as legendary fusion violinist Jerry Goodman, who contributes his usual top notch playing to nine of the album's 11 tracks. Czajkowski is a versatile and multi-faceted player, though he sticks primarily with electric fusion-rock guitar throughout the album. Stylistically he covers the usual, from Eric Johnson's "clean Strat" sound, to Steve Morse's "country boogie" style, to Steve Vai's "strangled metal" style, with nods here and there to everyone from Jeff Beck to Alan Holdsworth. Clearly he's studied every big name guitarist to come along in the past 20 years and can pull whatever style is demanded of him out of his bag of tricks. The arrangements — all instrumentals except for the Adrian Belew flavored "Twenty-First Century Visigoth" — are fairly standard guitar trio fusion fare. Memorable tunes are scarce, though what you get instead is loads of leads and solos from Czajkowski and plenty of duels between him and Goodman. Fans of the rockin' fusion or the aforementioned guitarists will probably enjoy this album, though slipping an acoustic piece or two in among the others would have helped give it a bit more diversity. Still, Czajkowski is a talent to be reckoned with and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Related artist(s): Hectic Watermelon
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more