Four masters of musical improvisation collaborate on the latest release from esteemed drummer, Chad Wackerman. Known for his work with Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth and James Taylor, Wackerman blurs the line between composed and improvised pieces on Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations. The featured musicians: guitar legend Allan Holdsworth, bassist Jimmy Johnson and keyboard player Jim Cox, have all developed a unique musical telepathy with Wackerman over decades, which is allowed to shine on this inventive, adventurous CD.
Ranging from atmospheric to edgy, the music on Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations showcases four creative musicians at the height of their musical powers. Wackerman has structured the CD so that the interplay between the performers is ever-present. Many of the improvised pieces sound like fully formed compositions, while the written pieces provide ample opportunities for spontaneous flow.
Wackerman’s history with these musicians goes back a long way. He has been playing with Jim Cox since their first gig together in 1979, backing trombonist Bill Watrous. Thanks to Peter Erskine, Wackerman met and started working with Jimmy Johnson in the early 1980’s, a continuing collaboration that both cherish. Wackerman began touring and recording with Allan Holdsworth in 1982, beginning with Holdworth’s well known Road Games release. Listen to the sparks fly as these musical bonds deepen on this incredible new CD.
Chad Wackerman (Drums); Allan Holdsworth (Guitar); Jimmy Johnson (Bass); Jim Cox (Keyboards)
1. Glass Lullaby
2. A New Day
3. Bent Bayou
4. Star Gazing
5. Edith Street
6. The Fifth
8. The Billows
9. Monsieur Vintage
10. Rapid Eeye Movement
11. Brain Funk
12. A Spontaneous Story
13. Two For Ya
It's worth mentioning upfront, not that any drummer would actually mind, that Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations is not an album of drum solos. While there is plenty of incredible drumming to be had, even a few tracks featuring drums and percussion, this latest CD release from Chad Wackerman is a collection of song-oriented tunes with beautiful melodies, sweeping dynamics, creative textures and expansive sonic colors.
Not to steal the limelight from Wackerman — this album is hefty on Holdsworth — it sounds as though it could actually be a Allan Holdsworth CD. For me, that's not a negative by any means! The four musicians on this recording, Chad Wackerman (drums, percussion), Allan Holdsworth (guitar, synthaxe, Starr Z-board), Jim Cox (keyboards), and Jimmy Johnson (bass) all contribute equally, bringing their own taste, professionalism ... and chops. If you are a fan of fusion music that pulls rock, jazz, funk, and world sounds into one soundscape, Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations will most certainly not disappoint.
Besides doing a fantastic job producing this CD, Chad Wackerman's performance throughout all 14 tunes is tremendous — never overplaying or showing — pulchritudinously simple yet rich in rhythmic complexities and structure. A perfect gentlemen who displays his wisdom and musical seasoning by what he plays ... or doesn't play.
The opening track, "Glass Lullaby" is a dreamy, magical tune featuring Wackerman (only) on drums, percussion and samples. Track 5, "Edith Street" starts out with some melodic tom work and double bass figures that Chad is known for. For those looking for tasty drum solos, Wackerman's drum composition, "Rapid Eye Movement" (Track 10) gives the listener two-and-a-half minutes of melodic drumming bliss. "Two for Ya" (Track 12) is an interesting 'free jam' with Wackerman and keyboardist, Jim Cox. The remaining tracks on the CD fall in line with the Holdsworth vibe that I already mentioned.
Do yourself a favor and add Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations to your music library; it's a 'must have' for Holdsworth (and Chad Wackerman) fans.