If ever five people produced an incredible trio it has to be John Sferra, Jack Giering, Phil Keaggy, Mark Douthit and Daniel Pecchio. Let me explain...
The John Sferra Trio
www.myspace.com/jackgiering www.philkeaggy.com www.johnsferra.com
Strobie Records / Golden Wave
11 tracks / 48:21
Infinity Unleashed is the debut album by the John Sferra Trio. It's also the third in a projected series of three trio albums by the principal players, Jack Giering (keyboards), Phil Keaggy (guitars), and John Sferra (drums). Of course, there are a couple of guests: the legendary Mark Douthit lays down some tasty sax lines on three tracks while Sferra and Keaggy's old band-mate Daniel Pecchio contributes bass on one. So here you have a debut project by a trio that's released two previous albums and occasionally enlarges to a quartet and a quintet. Does any of this matter? Not really – I just did that for the Abbot and Costello fans out there. What really matters is this – Giering, Keaggy and Sferra produce some stunningly funky, jazzy bluesy jams, and you'd be well advised to grab yourself a copy of Infinity Unleashed as soon as possible.
For those keeping score, first there was The Phil Keaggy Trio, then The Jack Giering Trio, and now it's the drummer's turn – and so we haveThe John Sferra Trio. As with the previous projects, each of these world-class instrumentalists performs brilliantly. The group self-produced the album and the drums are a little more prominent in the mix this time with more drum breaks scattered throughout than on the first two trio projects.
Keaggy's guitar work is once again fluid and intricately textured, at times reminding me a bit of Mark Knopfler (parts of "Trio Rock" and snatches elsewhere) but always keeping that fat, juicy Keaggy tone. The rock, funk, blue and jazz chops of this guitar legend are all over the album.
Jack Giering does almost everything you can do on a keyboard (I'm sure that the spirited Jack would come up for a funny line to follow that statement) and also provides a bed of sound that the others play over. Whether playing a funky clavinet effect, like on the title-track, or producing a faux horn section, or laying down jazzy blues chords, like on "Stax the Deck," or "Charang," Jack's work shines. For a real treat, listen to the way Jack and Phil work off each other on "Astral Flats."
Sferra's drums on the album are stunning. Right off the bat, the drums are ferocious on the hard-driving opener, "Cognitive Hammer," and the runaway train opening tempo of "Flower of Life." "Traffic," features Giering offering some impressive piano passages and John playing a series of wonderful drum breaks. The Latin-flavored "Lions at the Gate," features a very busy Sferra drum pattern pushing Keaggy, who's on acoustic guitar. Of course, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (the only non-original on the album) is a showcase for Sferra, who offers a genuine, old-school drum solo. The song is mercifully shorter than the seventeen minute original, by the way.
Stand-out moments are many, but of particular note is the title-track, "Infinity Unleashed, " where everybody finds their groove and works it out like a hot, sweaty band in an intimate venue. At about 2:25, when Giering's B3 enters the mix, it's a thing of beauty!
"Stax The Deck" is a powerful, moody blues with clean but mean guitar licks, simmering piano, synth horns, and a stunning Sax solo by Douthit.
Tight drumming, tasty guitar lines, hooky piano and sizzling sax breaks make "Late Show" a treat for the ears. It sounds like Booker-T meets Koinonia – an old-school soul instrumental.
If soulful funk-pop-jazz appeals to you this is a must-have. I would certainly welcome a fourth 'Trio' album. "Fourth of a series of three..."