Review By Scott Auld
Imagine yourself being magically transported into an alternate reality where music has no constraints, where the lure of pop music has not choked the life and soul out of music, where artistry dominates over sales figures as the driving force behind creativity.
That is the reality where Ed DeGenaro seems to live. His new CD, Less is Seldom More, appears to have been spawned directly from his soul, with no bowing to commercialism or Top 40 hit-craving record execs in suits. For music lovers, this is a very, very good thing. This is music the way it used to be, the way it’s supposed to be: pure creativity.
Less shifts gears between genres & styles so effortlessly, and so frequently, that you will wonder if someone is just flipping through the channels on a radio. But the shifts are so fluid and well-executed that you hardly feel the transitions – you just find yourself suddenly listening to techno-inspired mecha-rock, then beautiful fusion-jazz, then classical music, then suddenly world-beat/new-age chants, or country shredding … it’s all there, but Ed pulls it off without the self-conscious sense of apology found on many instrumental albums.
Parts of the album have a way of making you feel the way you might have felt the first time you listened to some of the pioneers of progressive guitar-oriented music – early Zappa with Vai comes to mind at one point – but unlike those albums, this music is so creative & inspired that it will appeal to non-players as well as musicians. For example, during the playing of Joe Z, my eastern-asian-world-music-loving wife looked at me suddenly and asked, “What’s the title of this song???” The appeal will really be across cultural boundaries. How this was accomplished is truly beyond me … I’ve just never heard an album that jumps so effortlessly between genres. Just when you think you are listening to a Sonny Landreth track, you are suddenly hearing what you think must be Wes Montgomery. Or, in another example, during the modern musical assault that is Avenue D, trumpet player Satish drops in with phrases that you would swear come from a classic jazz album from 1960.
Production values on the album are outstanding. This could have been recorded, mixed & mastered at any of the big shops. This is probably a tribute to the endless list of collaborators on the album, and Ed’s apparent openness to the ideas of his recording partners. The two collaborations with Matte Henderson are an example: Matte’s Bible Camp is almost a religious experience, while Yes Man is a fun reminder of Zappa’s “Stevie’s Spanking” – the two tracks couldn’t be more different, yet they stand easily together on an album that demonstrates so much diversity. Or, check out the way that the classic-rock organ stylings of George Whitty – who also mastered the album – holds up against the lightning-fast guitar work on Southern Flyer.
Less is Seldom More is a treat for music lovers of all stripes. If we’re lucky, this CD will influence others to release music straight from the gut. The results are spectacular.
To listen to sound clips and find info on how to purchase, click on the following: http://eddegenaro.com/html/ed_s_store.html