Album review : GADI CAPLAN – Look Back Step Forward

GADI CAPLAN – Look Back Step Forward

Musea Paralèlle [Release date 09.07.13]

Israeli born, Brooklyn domiciled and trained at the Berklee College of Music, Gadi Caplan is an electric/acoustic guitarist and composer who refuses to be restricted by one style of music. As a result, ‘Look back Step Forward’ is full of musical variety, light and shade and imaginative arrangements.

It’s an album full of fiery playing and spirited solos, tempered by more laid back pieces such as the acoustic melody of ‘Charlotte’ and the meditative groove of ‘A Latin Winter’. The album blends together beautifully, from the jazz-rock/fusion opening of ‘It’s All The Same’ to the exhilarating finish of ‘Tesha,’ which builds expansively into Duncan Wickel’s electric violin- led jammed out drone with a powerful ending.

The ten tracks are a personal musical journey full of intricate band interplay, rooted in fusion, but open to wider ranging explorations, including Jazz and prog rock, acoustic melodies, and eastern influenced pieces that stretch his abilities into new directions.

He aims to establish own voice over a number of genres that are already overpopulated by top line players. He just about manages to achieve his goal by making his solos an integral part of the composition as a whole, rather than an adjunct.  On ‘Brother’ for example, he doesn’t solo until after Oded Weinstock’s Jack Bruce influenced vocal, on a proggy piece influenced by Colosseum and early Genesis.

He’s adventurous on George Harrison’s ‘Within The Clouds’,  as he fuses the theme from ‘Within Without’ into his own Indo-American mould. His meandering guitar solo beautifully twists the melody into unforeseen places, over a fusion backdrop, with shades of Gong and Soft Machine, as drummer Moses Eder glues everything together.

‘Frostbite’ is the first of two tightly wrapped staccato instrumentals, with clipped notes, stop-start rhythms and shifting time signatures, in the mode of Man’s ‘H Samuel Jam’.  It’s a style he revisits on the fractured melody and spiky rhythms of ‘Monsoon Season’, before building the piece into to a space rock crescendo.

‘Look Back Step Forward’ could be interpreted as borrowing from the musical past to forge the future. The album doesn’t quite do that, but Gadi does have something to say and in doing so he’s managed update related musical genres in a way that makes this album worth revisiting on a regular basis.  ***½ 

Review by Pete Feenstra

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