Peter Frampton – Fingerprints (2006)

Peter Frampton’s first-ever instrumental release boasts a buffet-style diversity. And by refusing to settle into easy genre work — you just knew this would be jazz(zzzzzzzzz)y, right? — Frampton finally distances himself completely from a certain mid-1970s double live album.

Well, almost anyway. No, familiar keyboardist Bob Mayo doesn’t appear. (He actually died of a heart attack on tour some years ago.) But Stanley Sheldon, the bassist on “Frampton Comes Alive!” is here. Only — instead of feeling like they usually do — these two collaborate on a lilting Spanish-inflected number called “Ida Y Vuelta,” or Out and Back.

Indeed. The ramshackle blues of “Cornerstones” makes perfect sense with the addition of bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, originally from the Rolling Stones. Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band spices up “Blooze.”

Just when you get comfy in the baby-boomer nostalgia, however, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready stops by for two songs — playing a vintage 1959 Les Paul Gibson, no less.

The second is an improvised piece called “Blowin’ Smoke,” while the first is a cover tune that’s as welcome as it is unexpected — Frampton’s surprisingly muscular run (with McCready and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron) through Chris Cornell’s “Black Hole Sun.”

In the end, even the expected jazz stuff works. British saxophonist Courtney Pine adds some punch to “Boot It Up.” The Django Reinhardt-inspired “Souvenirs De Nos Pères” is, in fact, inspired.

And Frampton’s tribute to jazz guitarists, “Smoky,” recalls in-the-pocket classicists like Wes Montgomery more than the sleepy schlock that reformed rockers usually begin recording once they, too, get lines on their face.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso