Being an enthusiastic devotee of guitar music I find my pleasure in searching for fairly unknown records containing music with a high quality level. However, this time the music found me. Our main editor sent me the album Wait & See by The John Irvine Band to review for Background Magazine. While reading the accompanying information, the words 'progressive' and 'jazz-rock' immediately attracted my attention. During my first listen, I tried to find some information about this all-instrumental trio hailing from the United Kingdom and consisting of guitarist and keyboardist John Irvine, who also occasionally plays the guitar synthesizer, bass player Doug Kemp, and drummer-percussionist Alan Emsle.
Wait & See is highly recommended to fans of the great guitarist Allan Holdsworth. On the short opening piece The Bat you can hear the Synthaxe guitar synthesizer inspired by Holdsworth, who once introduced this instrument on the album Atavrachon (1986). The next piece Hubbub also has similarities with this British guitar player, but the sound of the rhythm section slightly differs from the usual companions of Holdsworth. It's a combination of his musical style with John Irvine's own style. Frazzled goes in the direction of The David Becker Tribune, a band that might be unknown to the average reader. The heavier elements in this composition make it a very interesting song to listen to. CUL8R (Sweet Sorrow) is in line with one of my all-time favourite fusion bands, namely the no longer existing Triton. This is also the longest piece on the album lasting over eight minutes.
The interaction between the band members is just sublime. It's not just a showcase for the guitarist, but a successful band effort. During Zigzag the resemblance with the aforementioned David Becker returns, but only in the rhythm parts. Irvine's soloing is more in his own style. In April is a slower and more relaxed composition with smooth and fluent guitar sounds over a basic rhythm section; a nice song that will let your mind flow in different directions. When you get to the title track, you must have been impressed by the high standard of music that this new band produces. This piece is smoother with a catching melody line and after a while you'll be whistling the main melody along with the guitar. The final piece is called New Brunswick, a solo spot for John Irvine. Now you can enjoy the relaxed guitar sounds. Well, light a candle and have a good glass of wine...
This album by The John Irvine Band is a pleasant surprise. Wait & See has been musically influenced by Allan Holdsworth with hints of Pat Metheny. If you like the style of these musicians then this album is worthwhile buying. I'm glad that I got the opportunity to review this album and I'm sure this band has the quality to be signed to a major label that can provide worldwide promotion and support. Anyway, they have convinced me with their fusion the way it should be played. An impressive new band!
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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