jon von boehmThis is a fine album for musicians, yes - but also for those of us that don't understand the mechanics of playing but love to listen to a band cook.

Jon von Boehm
9 tracks / 54:28

It's not often that you get albums where the bass player is the featured artist – I guess I hit the jackpot, because in a month's time I've got my hands on two (the other one was Bambo Kino's Ecto Perfecto) and they're both excellent. Jon von Boehm's eponymous (fancy word for self/titled – I looked it up) new album will be a delight not just to bass players but to lovers of jazz – particularly jazz fusion.

Full to the brim with intricate melody lines, unexpected tempo changes, ripping guitar solos, powerful, funky drumming, screaming sax and of course, fluid, articulate, often simply stunning bass work, Jon von Boehm shares the spotlight with a talented crew of musicians and recreates much of the feeling of the emerging jazz fusionists that emerged in the late 70's – indeed, some of these songs could have fit comfortably on Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow, or even some of George Duke's albums. The solid musicianship should be noted, as there are no weak links or 'average' players here:
Jon von Boehm – bass
Michael Green – drums
Walter Scott and Kenny Zarider – keys
Michael Gutierrez and Chris West – sax (each contributing monster solos to their particular tracks)
Denny Jiosa, Jonathan Crone, Dan Glenn, Ben Badenhorst and Scott Goudeau – guitars
Lara Landon - vocals

von Boehm, who wrote or co-wrote every song but the final track, generously distributes solo moments to his side-men, who shine. The guitar solos are visceral, rock-influenced tour-de-forces, the drum breaks are furious - and there are plenty of featured 'drum moments' scattered throughout ("Fickle Humpty" starts with a barrage of percussion), the sax solos are stunning, the keys lay a nice jazzy foundation and feature frequently in intricate melodic runs, often in tandem with the bass or guitar. Of course the bass is stellar, and not at all intrusive (it is, after all a bass player's project) – rather than slapping intros to every track, the bass is featured equitably and handled sensibly, and with good taste equal to the startling chops Jon possesses. All of this fine music is recorded and mixed to produce a room-filling sound-scape with a richness, depth, and clarity that lets each instrument breathe.

It's jazzy, it's funky, it rocks – but best of all, Jon von Boehm gives us an album that's full of good music. This is not just a musician's demo reel or mindless speed-noodling over a blues progression. Jazz fusion – like prog or any other specialized format – can sometimes become a musician's trap, becoming a comfort zone where the listener is sentenced to a mind-numbing sameness from track to track. Not so here. This is a fine album, yes – for musicians, but also for those of us that don't understand the mechanics but love to listen to a band cook.

On Ecto Perfecto we got some Zappa-esque semi Be-bop and now we get Jon von Boehm giving us a fresh take on jazz-fusion. Quite a two-fer. They say three's a charm: bass players – you know where you can find me...

-Bert Saraco