Steve Jenkins and the Coaxial Flutter – Steve Jenkins and the Coaxial Flutter (2013)

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Steve Jenkins may be a bassist, but he’s seemed to have learned a lot from guitarists with which he’s worked, like, say, Vernon Reid and David Fiuczynski, in how to craft music around his chosen instrument and his style of playing it. Leastwise, that’s the impression he’s left on his second, upcoming LP, the explosive Steve Jenkins And The Coaxial Flutter.

It would probably be easy to simply state that Jenkins is a virtuosic electric bassist, and IMHO he is, but there’s a tall stack of ace bassists who can play music but lack the conception to make records that are worth listening to for anything beyond the licks. Not so with The Coaxial Flutter.

Jenkins invested a lot in making music that pulls together many of his loves into a heavy fusion stew that strikes many balances at once: metal meets funk, ambient electronics meets drum ‘n’ bass and math rock meets jazzy grooves. In another dimension, improvisation meets texture and harmonic development. In a refreshingly reverse approach compared to many of his peers, improvisation is fitted into the other two components of his music, not the other way around. Jenkins himself solos on only three of these eight tracks, and solos performed by him or anyone else are to the point and compact.

Jenkins is responsible for a lot on this record: in addition to bass and compositions, he supplied the keyboards, rhythm guitar, the drum programming and the arrangements. And whatever Jenkins couldn’t do himself at the highest level, he brought in real pros to handle. Mixed by Jamie Siegel (Lauryn Hill, Smashing Pumpkins), The Coaxial Flutter boasts the impossibly knotted drumming services of Adam Deitch (John Scofield, Matisyahu, Lettuce) and Gene Lake (Screaming Headless Torsos, Dave Douglas, Oliver Lake), as well as prime axe men Reid, John Shannon and Chris Buono.

Jenkins’ penchant for whiplash change in style directions comes out right from the start: “Leave This City Before You Can’t” is a modern, staggered groove that flips between a melodic motif and crunchy metallic riff. The highlight is Jenkins’s bass solo that not only sounds like a guitar, but approximates the sweet legato lines of Alan Holdsworth. The song’s coda is represented by a different motif altogether, with two rhythms of different tempos locking in together.

“Don’t Bring A Knife To A Gunfight” follows a similar strategy but it’s a little heavier and spotlighted by Reid’s insane, off the hook solo turn. That tense moment is followed by his much looser playing on “How About Never,” a comely, gurgling soul riff broken up by metal and funk-jazz passages. “Universe” boasts a synth-washed groove anchored down tight by Jenkins fat bass lines, and “Parallax” is a dreamy vibe enhanced by Buono’s delay loop, clashing with hard banging snare. “Sphere” is a dense, frantic math prog-metal featuring Jenkins’ furious bass figures giving way to soft, ambient electronic textures.

Steve Jenkins And The Coaxial Flutter keenly leverages fusion ideas from classic Jeff Beck all the way to Fiuczynski but this ain’t no retro music. He’s always looking forward by also pulling in ideas from all across the current landscape of modern, edgy music. That’s one the very things that sets Jenkins apart from his peers in making Steve Jenkins And The Coaxial Flutter rock-jazz fusion of the future.

Steve Jenkins And The Coaxial Flutter is set for release May 14. Visit Steve Jenkins’ website for more info.

Purchase a download of Steve Jenkins And The Coaxial Flutter here.

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